OAS panel accusing Venezuela of ‘crimes against humanity’ is grilled on moral hypocrisy and open bias

An OAS panel featured condemnations of Venezuela’s human rights violations by one of the world’s most prominent defenders of Israeli atrocities

By Max Blumenthal

A group of self-described independent experts convened a press conference at the Organization of American States in Washington DC on May 29. The panel presented a 400-page report accusing the Venezuelan government of crimes against humanity and demanding the prosecution of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the International Criminal Court.

The panel comprised a collection of aggressive advocates of regime change in Venezuela. I attended the event to question the self-proclaimed experts on their ulterior agenda and the absurd contradictions behind their claims to support universal human rights.

“With right-wing allies ruling Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru, the OAS has faded back into its history as an instrument of US domination of Latin America,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told The Grayzone.

Weisbrot added OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, “is obsessed with Venezuela, and determined to do whatever he can to achieve regime change there, by any means necessary.”

According to Weisbrot, “Almagro has been campaigning to topple the government of Venezuela for years now, he supports the illegal financial embargo against Venezuela — which actually violates the OAS charter itself, among other international treaties and conventions. But he even goes a step further, proposing an embargo on Venezuela’s oil exports, which shows his complete indifference to the suffering of Venezuelans, or their deaths from shortages of medicines.”

Joining Almagro on the panel was Santiago Canton, an Argentinian lawyer who has leveraged his position in various international bodies to push regime change in Venezuela. In 2002, after a right-wing putsch briefly removed Hugo Chavez from power, Canton delivered a letter to the coup leaders on behalf of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights addressing the dictatorship as a legitimate government.

Canton previously led the Latin America Program of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an arm of the US-backed National Endowment for Democracy, which has contributed large sums of money to pro-opposition organizations and parties in Venezuela. The NDI’s sister group, the International Republican Institute, vocally backed the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez. (At the time, the IRI was chaired by Sen. John McCain).

In introducing the OAS panel on Venezuela, Almagro declared that his organization was a “moral force” with a special mandate to mete out justice against Caracas.

Rounding out the panel was Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian parliamentarian and veteran Israel lobbyist who recently blamed Palestinians for Israel’s killing of 62 protesters in one day in the Gaza Strip. Like a Canadian version of Alan Dershowitz, Cotler reflexively rushes out in Israel’s defense whenever it is accused of committing atrocities against Palestinians.

Cotler has also served as a legal advocate for Leopoldo Lopez, the imprisoned right-wing coup leader and orchestrator of Venezuela’s violent guarimbas. Sparing no opportunity for hyperbole, he used his time on the panel to accuse Venezuela’s government of carrying out the worst humanitarian crisis in the history of Latin America.

In the video produced by The Grayzone, you can watch Max Blumenthal question the panelists about their claims of independence and moral consistency.