Current U.S. actions in Venezuela raise the issue of whether the U.S. government is willing to adhere to the same rules of behavior it expects other nations to follow.
For most of its early history, the U.S. intervened regularly in Latin America. A shift began in 1933, when the U.S. used the occasion of Pan-American conferences to proclaim a nonintervention policy. This policy was reiterated by the Organization of American States (OAS), founded in 1948.
Article 19 of the OAS Charter states clearly: “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” While the Charter declares that one of the essential purposes of the OAS is “to promote and consolidate representative democracy,” it continues, in the same sentence, to note that such activity should be conducted “with due respect for the principle of nonintervention.” The U.S. is an active member of the OAS, voted to approve the Charter, and is legally bound by it. The United Nations Charter, also formulated by the U.S. government and part of international law, includes its own nonintervention obligation.
HISTORY OF UNLAWFUL INTERVENTION
Unfortunately, the U.S. government has violated these principles of international law many times in the past — toppling or attempting to topple numerous governments. And the results often have failed to live up to grandiose promises and expectations.
There are things worth criticizing in Venezuela, and a substantial majority of OAS nations voted in January 2019 for a resolution that rejected the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as president. But that resolution did not call for outside intervention but, rather, for “a national dialogue with the participation of all Venezuelan political actors and stakeholders” to secure “national reconciliation,” “a new electoral process,” and a peaceful resolution to “the current crisis in that country.”
Continued U.S. meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs, including the implicit threat of U.S. military invasion, seems likely to lead to massive bloodshed in that country, the destabilization of Latin America, and the further erosion of the international law the U.S. government claims to uphold.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.