Correcting a foolish wrong
By Sir Ronald Sanders
(The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America and the Organization of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto)
It is time that several nations, led in the Western Hemisphere by the US and Canada, correct a foolish wrong. Among those countries are two member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), namely Haiti and Jamaica.
That wrong was not only their anointment of Juan Guaidó as the “Interim President” of Venezuela on January 23, 2019, but also the subsequent imposition of this fallacy on organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The wrong was foolish because it was conceived and imposed to suit narrow national political objectives; it was not grounded in international law or practice, nor was there any wide agreement on it. Therefore, it was never sustainable.
Seven of the 13 countries in the Western Hemisphere, which originally joined the US and Canada in aggressively supporting that notion that Guaidó was in charge of Venezuela, have now abandoned that position and reverted to dealing with the de facto Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The 7 countries that have ditched support for Guaidó are: Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Chile, and Honduras in Latin America as well as The Bahamas and St Lucia in the Caribbean.
Significantly, an eighth and very important country is seeking to normalize relations with the Maduro government.
This country is Venezuela’s neighbour, Colombia, whose newly elected President, Gustavo Petro, revealed on his twitter account that he has “reached out to the Venezuelan government to open the borders and restore the full exercise of human rights on the border”. The conversation was confirmed by Maduro. Petro will assume office on August 7.
Many adverse consequences arose from the wrong that was perpetrated in January 2019. Among them were violations of the rules of the OAS to compel accreditation of Guaidó’s nominee as Venezuela’s Ambassador on April 22, 2019.
There was a similar dubious procedure, one month before, on March 15, 2019, to appoint Guaidó’s representative as a governor of the IDB.
Those wrongful actions continue to divide the member states of both organizations, and to adversely affect their operations both financially and functionally.
For instance, since Guaidó has no control over the finances of Venezuela, including its Treasury, his so-called interim government has not paid one cent in contributions to the OAS or the IDB, nor has it serviced the outstanding loans to Venezuela.
In the IDB’s case, at the end of 2021, the total amount of Venezuela’s sovereign-guaranteed payment arrears amounted to $1,088 million, including interest. Further, since 2018, all loans to Venezuela, amounting to $2,011 million, were placed in non-accrual status.
Interest income not recognized amounted to $51 million during the year ended December 31, 2021, and the related individually assessed allowance for credit losses was $77 million.
How any Bank can operate in this way is alarming. It demonstrates a woeful politization of a financial institution with little regard for fiduciary responsibilities. Left unchecked, it will cripple the Bank, severely restricting its capacity to cater for the needs of its borrowing members and threatening repayments to its lending members.
The OAS is equally affected financially. As of June 30, 2022, Venezuela owes the Organization $17.4 million in unpaid dues. Every year, $1.9 million is added to that sum. The cumulative effect is to deprive the OAS of money it desperately needs to recruit competent staff and to retain the ones it has. Projects are also affected by the lack of finance, forcing the Organization to become increasingly dependent on “special funds” solicited mostly from the US and Canada, giving these two countries even greater influence on the Organization than they already have.
When, on April 22, 2019, the US and Canada, imposed Guaidó’s representative on the OAS, they did so by the slenderest majority of 18 votes, and only with the support of 6 of the Latin American and Caribbean countries, which have publicly changed their stance.
Today, it is most unlikely that 18 countries would support retaining Guaidó’s nominee as the legitimate representative of Venezuela. But the anachronistic rules of the OAS are such that while only 18 votes were required to impose a representative, a two-thirds majority or 22 votes is needed to reverse the imposition, and thus to correct this wrong.
It may very well be that, given that 15 of the 33 voting member states of the OAS did not support the April 2019 decision, and 8 countries have now publicly changed their position, there are 23 countries that could overturn it.
All of this sets the stage for a completely different conversation concerning Venezuela; importantly one that will not include the myth that Guaidó is the Interim President of the country. That is not to say that he would not remain a participant in any negotiations among the parties in Venezuela to find a solution to the political impasse in that country, but he would not be doing so on the unrealistic premise that has so far been promoted.
Both the OAS and the IDB, in their functional and financial interest, need to remedy the situation regarding Venezuela.
On a wider hemispheric level, credible and practical discussions should be initiated with the government that is in charge of Venezuela in order to reintegrate the country and its resources into the global trading and financial system.
In that way, desired reforms in Venezuela, could be achieved with benefits to its people, and to the role it could play in the peaceful development and prosperity of the Hemisphere.
Responses and previous commentaries: www.sirronaldsanders.com
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Correcting a foolish wrong would be to get rid of your ass.
Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! ” For no man delights in the bearer of bad news.” – Antigone, written by Sophocles around 440 B.C.! It ought to be a Teachable Moment for you and Mr. C!
“Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness, and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!
It has been said that White Supremacy and Imperialism will never forget or forgive rebels they consider inferior because such antagonists plant seeds of white supremacy’s fallacies, which will germinate, sprout and flourish many generations later! Many People of African Descent living in the Caribbean SIDS are deathly scared of John Bull’s Neo-Colonialism and The FIRM’s Imperial might that they have mentally and psychologically tuned out the wisdom that, “Zombies, believe me, are more terrifying than colonists.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!
Haiti was the first free nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, the first nation in the modern world emerging from a slave revolt began in 1791, and the second most long-standing republic in the Western Hemisphere! The Haitian people overthrew the French colonialists in 1804, abolished slavery, and declared independence! Their revolution was the worse nightmare of colonial powers with possessions in the Caribbean – the Zombies of Saint-Domingue disturbed the sleep of slave holders for years! The White Supremacist Imperial powers imposed a rigorous cultural, economic and political blockade on the new Haiti, to prevent the extension of its example!
In January 1959, another Caribbean island, Cuba, defying U.S. White Supremacist Imperial power, declared itself the first free territory of the Americas and dared to announce its decision to build the first socialist nation in the hemisphere! The “crime of insubordination” committed required immediate action by the “superpower!” Since then, all variants of war have been waged against the rebel island, including the economic, for over 60 years!
Add the formation of the English Speaking SIDS West Indies Federation and Dr. Eric Williams bold declaration: “Uncle Sam, We Want Back We land!” Eric Williams and the Anglo-American Controversy over the Chaguaramas Base, 1957-1961! Williams and those rebellious People of African Descent had to be punished for their arrogance just as Haiti and Cuba and those who led Slave Rebellions previously! Forget all the noise you have learned about Bustamante’s spreading distrust amongst Jamaicans about “small islanders!” That misses the mark! White Supremacy Monopoly Capital had found the weakest link in Jamaica’s White and “Mulatto” People and Business Class! Jamaica was broken by the CIA, MI6, DGSE and baffled to this day by the colorism stratification that runs rampant and deep in the society!
Compound that with Guiana’s Communist Cheddi Jagan, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic and a young firebrand Pindling in the Bahamas spouting land reclamation! It was a most terrifying period for White Supremacy Monopoly Capital! If you do not know or understand all of those Historical Referent Points, you will not comprehend the genesis and how Haiti and Jamaica are unable to begin “Correcting a foolish wrong!” Ortega of Nicaragua, Chavez and Maduro of Venezuela, Lula and Rousseff of Brazil, and most recently, Gustavo Petro former Socialist Guerrilla and the first Afro Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez of Colombia, are all insubordinate rebels to be punished with crippling sanctions and never be forgiven! White Supremacist Nations have followed Roman Traditions! The Roman general Scipio Aemilianus plowed over and sowed the city of Carthage with salt after defeating it in the Third Punic War (146 BC), sacking it, and enslaving the survivors! That is the History of Western Civilization! To expect a different kinder, gentler and more humane approach is foolish of People of African Descent! Sanders understands the Historical Referent Points but no sting of the Lash!
The Good Ambassador, Ronald Sanders knows: Haiti remains broken! Jamaica is a basket case under Sisyphean IMF, IDB and WB Financial Yokes! “Imperialism is a system of exploitation that occurs not only in the brutal form of those who come with guns to conquer territory. Imperialism often occurs in more subtle forms, a loan, food aid, blackmail . We are fighting this system that allows a handful of men on earth to rule all of humanity.” – Capitaine Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara, The Upright Man, Pan-Africanist Revolutionary and former President of Burkina Faso born 1949 assassinated 1987!
in unbalanced trade practices (trade agreements) and tariffs, enforced by military might. The Monroe Doctrine is a good example.
And there will be no change unless the aggrieved is willing to go to war and or is willing to sacrifice one’s life.
We have seen and/or read the above scenario played out in slavery, American independence, the wars in Canada, the wars in Mexico during American expansion, China, India, Africa, the world wars, the independence era of the 1960s and in more recent times, Kuwait, Afghanistan etc.
The hypocrisy is such that, the population in the “powerful” countries would never tolerate themselves the unlawful disposition imposed on the population in the rest of the world.
Wars are not necessarily fought to kill civilians… but to destroy the infrastructure. Who do you think is most likely to give you a loan to rebuild and bleed the country of its resources, human or otherwise?
You can ask the most Rev. Martin Luther King or Steve Biko as a start…
Why is this dude still on the payroll?
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