Let Latin Amer­i­can lead­ers lead

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUN­DAY OPIN­ION -

The March 18 edi­to­rial “A prin­ci­pled ap­peal to ac­tion” as­serted that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “ig­nored” a 2016 ap­peal from Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Luis Al­ma­gro to ap­ply the In­ter-Amer­i­can Demo­cratic Char­ter against Venezuela. The re­al­ity is that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion sup­ported Mr. Al­ma­gro’s ini­tia­tive and made re­peated pub­lic state­ments to this ef­fect. Ad­di­tion­ally, the United States was one of 20 coun­tries that voted in fa­vor of dis­cussing Mr. Al­ma­gro’s re­port in June 2016, even though it was clear the pro­posal would not get the two-thirds vote needed to ad­vance.

Mr. Al­ma­gro’s lat­est in­vo­ca­tion of the char­ter has a greater like­li­hood of suc­cess. While sev­eral Latin Amer­i­can lead­ers have ex­pressed reser­va­tions about sus­pend­ing Venezuela from the OAS with­out prior con­sul­ta­tion, there is re­newed in­ter­est in re­gional so­lu­tions to the coun­try’s cri­sis. Rather than seek­ing vo­cif­er­ous lead­er­ship, as the edi­to­rial board en­cour­aged, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should be strate­gic. OAS mem­bers on the fence will need con­vinc­ing from their re­gional neigh­bors, and the lat­ter should be given the sup­port and space to lead.

David Smilde, New Or­leans The writer is a se­nior fel­low at the Wash­ing­ton Of­fice on Latin Amer­ica.

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