OAS Secretary General Luis Almargo described Venezuela as the most corrupt country on that continent
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2016 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives his annual state of the nation address in Caracas, Venezuela. Maduro announced on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 that his nation's top diplomat in Washington would be called back to protest the decision to renew a U.S. decree imposing sanctions on several top officials from the South American country. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File), photo: AP/Fernando Llano, File
6 months ago
WASHINGTON – The leader of the Western Hemisphere's largest diplomatic body said Wednesday he backs targeted sanctions against high-ranking Venezuelan officials responsible for the political and economic turmoil gripping the South American nation. But Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), cautioned a congressional oversight panel against sweeping economic penalties that could worsen the suffering of Venezuelan citizens. He described Venezuela as the most corrupt country on that continent. "The only action of the government we see these days is repression," Almagro told the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and transnational crime. "The scenarios that we see are pretty ugly for Venezuela." Almagro, as part of bleak assessment of Venezuela, also questioned whether sanctions would succeed in having their desired effect, which is to force President Nicolás Maduro and his supporters to make drastic changes.7.5 million people voted against the constitutional assembly at unofficial ballot boxes set up nationwide and in expatriate communities Sunday. Almagro said that more than 100 people have been killed and thousands more have been injured in Venezuela since a wave of protests began in April. Of those killed, more than 30 were under the age of 21, he said. More than 450 investigations into human rights violations have been opened, according to Almagro, and there are 444 political prisoners in Venezuela. But he said the reluctance of other countries to "act in defense of democracy has allowed the situation to deteriorate incrementally, but consistently, to the point where today it has become a full-blown humanitarian and security crisis."