President Donald Trump is calling Venezuela “a mess” after the country announced it is pulling out of the Organization of American States.
“I’m very sad for Venezuela. I’m very sad to see what’s happened in Venezuela. Venezuela is a very sad situation,” Trump said Thursday during a White House meeting with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said it will soon present a letter of complaint to the OAS — the first step in the two-year process to leave the regional group.
The Caracas government is upset that the OAS voted to hold a special session to talk about Venezuela’s political crisis.
“Venezuela will not participate in any future activity nor any event in which this group of countries that only want to disturb the stability and peace of our country seek to interfere and intervene,” Rodriguez said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the OAS can have a “constructive influence” on Venezuela.
“That includes free elections, respect for its National Assembly, and freedom for all of the Venezuelan political prisoners,” he said. “This is not something that is going to happen overnight. So we still believe that influence can be applied.”
The latest political crisis in Venezuela was sparked by the Supreme Court’s announcement last month that it was assuming parliamentary powers, saying the opposition-controlled assembly has ignored its rulings. Although the court reversed itself several days later, protesters filled the streets, accusing the court of trying to turn the country into a socialist dictatorship run by President Nicolas Maduro.
Authorities also have banned opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding political office for 15 years, infuriating the protesters.
The opposition is demanding Maduro hold early elections.
Anti-government marches have turned violent, leaving at least 29 people dead and more than 400 hurt.
Earlier this month, an OAS resolution called on the Maduro government to respect the separation of powers and fully restore democratic order.
The latest political crisis is another layer of woes for Venezuela. Its once-thriving oil-based economy has collapsed under the drop in energy prices, inflation and failed socialist policies.
There are severe shortages of food, medicine and gasoline. Many Venezuelans frequently cross into Colombian and Brazilian border towns to buy what they need.
Maduro has blamed Venezuela’s problems on the United States and the opposition.