At US urging, leaders from numerous Latin American countries on Monday voted to crack down on members of Venezuela’s socialist government who have committed acts of corruption, human rights abuse and drug trafficking.
Members of the so-called Rio Treaty — a rarely invoked mutual defence pact among the US, Canada and several Latin American and Caribbean nations — voted 16 to 1 to approve the measures. Uruguay opposed, Trinidad and Tobago abstained, and Cuba was absent.
Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said the countries agreed to “all available measures” to pursue, prosecute and extradite suspects from the government of President Nicolas Maduro and to freeze the targeted individuals’ assets in any of the treaty countries.
Mr Holmes Trujillo said the governments, meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, did not consider military actions at this point. They also agreed to set up teams of financial crime investigators.
“Many democracies are now acting together to create the conditions for democracy and liberty to return to the Venezuelan people,” Mr Holmes Trujillo said.
It remains to be seen how the measures will be enacted and enforced. In theory, however, it would mark a much stronger action plan against a country already reeling under crushing poverty, deprivation and political chaos.
The 1947 Rio Treaty has not been activated since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US. The accord establishes that a threat to one member is a threat to all.
The annual U.N. summit, the world’s largest diplomatic stage, provides a charged platform and unparalleled audience for Maduro opponents trying to unseat him — a campaign backed by the Trump administration that has largely floundered.