With the country of Venezuela in serious crisis, the government has come under intense international scrutiny. In May, the Organization of American States called for a vote on whether or not to oust Venezuela from the organization. What's the significance of this development? And what is the OAS, anyway?
Sapna Parikh has the details in today's Seeker Daily report.
The OAS is a regional coalition made up of all 35 independent countries in North and South America. The idea of a regional group for the Americas dates back to the early 1800s, in Venezuela, actually. Revolutionary Simon Bolivar suggested creating an intercontinental American republic, with one military and one parliament.
That never happened, but the concept of a pan-American organization was put in place. Then U.S. president James Monroe implemented the Monroe Doctrine, which held that any further European to colonization of the Americas would be seen as hostile territorial aggression and be met with U.S. intervention.
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In 1947, nations in the Americas signed the Rio Treaty, a mutual defense pact inspired by the developments of World War II. The following year, the U.S. organized a meeting to officially form the OAS, driven in part by fear of Communism spreading throughout the Americas. On the upside, that initial meeting also produced the first ever international human rights agreement.
The OAS has been in place ever since, and has served as a useful forum for promoting stability in the Americas and policing human rights. But as a practical matter, the OAS has little authority. The ejection of Venezuela would be a largely symbolic gesture -- a kind of international public statement condemning the Venezuelan government. It could, however, strengthen opposition forces in the country, which could lead to positive change.
For more on regional coalitions, check out our report on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a similar group representing the Muslim world.
-- Glenn McDonald
Britannica: Organization of American States (OAS)
Organization of American States: Member States
BBC: Venezuela: OAS head calls emergency meeting over crisis
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