Heated debates are expected as of today when the 34-nation Organization of American States (OAS) meets in Cancun. President Enrique Peña Nieto will be the first Mexican leader to ever host an OAS General Assembly, this one being the 47th currently presided by Luis Almagro.
At first it was believed, since the assembly adjourned last May 31, the main issue would be Venezuela’s attempted OAS membership resignation but as of last week the planned agenda had to be changed when U.S. President Donald Trump last Friday partially revoked former President Obama’s arrangements to reestablish diplomatic relations.
Trump’s renewed censorship of Cuba and ban on direct commercial dealings with “the military run” Cuban tourism industry immediately provoked further friction among the block of left-wing nations headed by Cuba which besides Venezuela, also includes Bolivia and Ecuador.
Trump’s Cuban undoing deal also forced U.S. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson cancel his participation at the Cancun General Assembly which up until last Thursday was fully confirmed by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Secretary Tillerson was programmed to meet and get familiar with the foreign relations secretaries of the OAS nations. Tillerson is being replaced under-secretary Donald J. Sullivan.
Definitely Trump’s distancing the United States again from Cuba will have to be explained again by Sullivan as the president’s explanation did not suit well with many Latin American nations as the thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States under Obama had brought about a much more friendly and relaxed atmosphere at OAS.
But most definitely the Venezuelan crisis will still be the main topic for discussion and the one expected to produce the most verbal friction, given the aggressive defense Venezuela chancellor Delcy Rodríguez has launched against the partnership, integrated by Canada, the United States, Mexico and Peru, which have called upon Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to liberate political prisoners, establish a national electoral calendar allowing international and OAS observers and to suspend military trials for civilians caught in revolts against the Maduro regime.
May 31, Delcy Rodríguez established Venezuela’s “repudiation” of the “imposition” demanded by the North American nations and Peru, picking particularly on Mexico calling it “a failed state” and other niceties due to the nation’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Luis Videgaray siding with other nations to make propositions for Venezuela to get out of its crisis. She called Videgaray’s meddling with the internal affair of Venezuela “infamous and immoral, submitting to the hegemonic country [the United States] and to covering up for his failed state.”
Videgaray insisted, however, in establishing a humanitarian aid scheme to supply Venezuela with the shortages of food and medicine “within a framework of respect, solidarity and friendship with the Venezuelan people.”
Some of the programmed speakers are Deputy William Davila of Democratic Action Party and Maduro regime opponent and political exile Carlos Vecchio of the Popular Will group.
On the municipal Cancun front, the OAS General Assembly will hold over 1,500 attendees at the Moon Palace Arena, one of the tourist venue’s largest hotels, which Sunday night was described as “a bunker” with direct protection by the Federal Police and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s personal guard called “Estado Mayor” made up by military elite.
The “extreme security measures” to give protection to the visiting diplomats from the American continent is also because during this past week there were several shootouts among drug selling gangs seeking control of sales in Cancun.
In fact, the shootouts — one of them on main tourism thoroughfare Kukulcan Avenue — forced the national Defense Secretariat to put Lieutenant Colonel Darwin Puc Acosta as the new chief of police in the city as of Saturday morning.
Overall, the Moon Palace is the most secure place in Mexico for the two days of the OAS General Assembly.
What will come out of it? We’ll certainly be watching closely.