Rice: "This is not a matter of intervening to punish"
Against the backdrop of growing tensions between the United States and Venezuela, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed Sunday for nations in the Western Hemisphere to more actively support democracy and counter authoritarian trends in Latin America.
Speaking to foreign ministers and diplomats from 33 other countries gathered here for the general assembly of the Organization of American States, Rice said that governments in the Americas are no longer divided between liberal and conservative. The divide "is between those governments that are elected and govern democratically and those that do not."
Rice urged the OAS to "strengthen democracy where it is weak" and to "support democracy where it is threatened." But a U.S. proposal to empower the OAS to monitor democratic trends, as a way to head off problems, got a lukewarm reception, with some countries believing it would invite U.S. meddling.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has emerged as a nettlesome foe of the Bush administration, denounced the idea Sunday on his weekly radio program, accusing the United States of trying to impose a "global dictatorship" and forcing its will on the region.
"The times in which the OAS was an instrument of the government in Washington are gone," Chavez said in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. "Are they going to try, through the OAS, to monitor the Venezuelan government? . . . Those who think they can put the peoples of Latin America in a corral are mistaken," he said.
Chavez added: "If there is any government that should be monitored by the OAS, then it should be the U.S. government, a government which backs terrorists, invades nations, tramples over its own people, seeks to install a global dictatorship."
The United States for the first time in 31 years is the host of the annual three-day OAS meeting, and security here was extremely tight. Much of downtown was locked down, and a helicopter hovered above the hotel where Rice and other senior diplomats are staying. President Bush is set to address the meeting Monday.
Speaking to reporters as she flew here from Washington, Rice said the U.S. proposal was designed to make the organization more effective. "I think we have to have a discussion of how the organization can be effective if it does not have mechanisms that help at times of crisis," she said. "This is not a matter of intervening to punish. It's a matter of intervening to try and sustain the development of democratic institutions across the region." Read more
DB: OK, so now we know.....it is not enough to be elected democratically, you have got to govern democratically too - it does not take much imagination to guess which imperial power is going to be the judge of what is and what is not 'governing democratically'. Coming from a country where neither ideals apply this is rich, but no surprise. Rice's assertion that "This is not a matter of intervening to punish" rings hollow indeed.
See PINR article "Washington Loses Control of the O.A.S." for good background reading.