In 2012, Venezuela withdrew from the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR, in Spanish and also known as the Rio Treaty), which serves as a defensive shield to member nations of the Organization of American States (OAS). In July 2019, the Venezuelan National Assembly, under the leadership of Interim President Juan Guaidó, approved the return of Venezuela to the TIAR, as a way to strengthen cooperation with countries in the region and increase pressure on the regime of Nicolás Maduro. The Venezuelan delegation to the OAS requested the TIAR’s activation on September 9.
The TIAR was created in 1947 as a system for mutual military aid to OAS member states (35 member nations in 2019) in the event that a foreign force attacks a country in the region.
To know more about the topic, Diálogo spoke with Gustavo Tarre Briceño, Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, who is in exile in the United States since 2014, after being accused of plotting against Maduro.
Diálogo: What’s the importance of activating the TIAR to exert pressure on the Maduro regime?
Gustavo Tarre Briceño, Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS: The TIAR is about completing the reinsertion of Venezuela into the Inter American system that it previously abandoned. The first achievement of the administration of Interim President Juan Guaidó was for Venezuela to be readmitted to the OAS. Then, the National Assembly requested its ratification at the American Convention on Human Rights. We are taking steps to summon the TIAR’s consultative body to take measures to help restore peace in the region, which is in danger due to the Nicolás Maduro regime.
Diálogo: What specific measures could be applied?
Tarre: An absolute majority of TIAR member states must agree to invoke the treaty, and this requires the support of 10 countries. Then, the approval of 13 countries is necessary to hold a session, and making a decision requires the votes of 13 countries. So this is about forming a collective decision. People think that because most TIAR member nations have recognized Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, that this is a done deal, or that everything is ready, but it’s not like that. Each country has its own interests and problems, so that’s why it’s about building a coalition, talking with each country. Obviously, some countries like Colombia, the United States, or Brazil are helping us build that continental understanding to defend Venezuelan democracy. More specifically, TIAR’s Article 8 considers a series of concrete reciprocal assistance measures in the diplomatic, economic, and [even] military areas. At this moment, we are seeking to summon the consultative body and submit all the files we have been preparing that show Cuban interference in Venezuela, the migratory crisis, and narcotrafficking with narcoterrorist guerrilla groups operating inside Venezuelan territory. All this constitutes a threat to peace in the region, and clearly this threat is much more direct for some countries.
Diálogo: What more can, or should, the OAS do to exert pressure on the Maduro regime?
Tarre: The OAS is an international organization that has been making very important decisions: recognizing the representation of Interim President Juan Guaidó at the center of the organization is an important measure, as is rejecting the creation of a Constituent National Assembly and the sham elections where Nicolás Maduro was reelected. It has condemned the violations of parliamentary immunity; it has expressed its firm support for the report issued by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet; in other words, this shows political solidarity. OAS actions will be much more important once the usurpation is over; because the OAS has highly valuable technical teams specialized in organizing elections, supervising electoral processes, restoring an autonomous judiciary system, and fighting corruption. At the technical level in the OAS, there are factors that will be crucial to rebuilding a democratic Venezuela.
Diálogo: So far, no measure taken by the OAS has changed the situation in real terms in Venezuela. Why?
Tarre: The change we all want is a change of government. Has the situation changed in Venezuela? Yes, it has changed drastically. Three years ago, only a few countries in the world condemned the Maduro regime, but now a wide majority of nations condemn the Maduro regime. I would add that no one defends Maduro openly. Some take refuge in the principle of non-interference in foreign matters, but no one is saying at the OAS that the Maduro regime is a democratic government. I think that the OAS has made progress; it has had its successes.