4:40PM EDT: AFP reports OAS bars press for session on Venezuela
Among the countries voting with Brazil to keep out the press were Nicaragua, Uruguay, El Salvador, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and all but one of the Caribbean countries. Barbados abstained.
Panama had accredited Venezuelan lawmaker Maria Corina Machado to its delegation so she could speak about the situation in Venezuela where 31 people have been killed anti-government protests since February 4.
Voting with Panama against closing the OAS session were the United States, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.
Machado said the vote against opening the session reflected “the totalitarian vocation of the Venezuelan regime.”
Machado is a proponent, along with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, of an opposition strategy called “the exit” which seeks to force President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation under pressure of street protests.
The government is threatening to strip her of her parliamentary immunity and charge her with murder over the street protests.
The Venezuelan case was discussed two weeks ago at the OAS in a special session of its permanent council, which also was held behind close doors.
Out of the 17 Spanish speaking countries in OAS, 9 voted against the Maduro regime, just 8 for it.
In fact, all we saw today was the payoff from a long-running strategy by the Chávez regime to buy off small, weak Caribbean island states with oil subsidies. The thirteen smallest countries in OAS voted as a block to support the government, including every Caribbean statelet and every non-Spanish speaking country except for the U.S. and Canada.
All today’s vote really shows is that the government went on a shopping spree in the Caribbean, buying off weak states on the cheap. But it’s a funny kind of Bolivarian alliance, isn’t it, where 14 out of 22 countries supporting you don’t speak Bolívar’s language.
11:07AM EDT: Session closed. No more video.
Will democracy survive the OAS today?
I was attempting to connect to the Organization of American States hearing where Venezuelan Assemblywoman and national opposition leader Maria Corina Machado is scheduled to speak. Surprise! The http://www.oas.org/ website is down:
Sources in DC say that the servers in the US government and Congress cannot access the OAS site, either.
Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua want the meeting closed to the press.
Panama demanded this meeting three weeks ago. Canada, the US, and Peru insist on proceeding according to OAS rules. Allan Culham, the Canadian ambassador, was particularly eloquent.
They are voting now (watch at OAS Live). 22 votes in favor of closing, 11 against, 1 abstained.