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Message from OAS Secretary General on Venezuela

  May 20, 2017

Desmond Tutu once said "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

The boxer Archie Moore, referring to Muhammad Ali, also said, "He is a fighter who stands for something. He is a rights fighter also, like me. The man who stands neutral stands for nothing."

The beginning of this message is based on quotes from two people of African descent. That is very telling, because African descendants have struggled more than any other people against indifference and "neutrality" when faced with discrimination. The world of people of African descent has been the one that has had to face legal doctrines that justified discrimination and even slavery.

There is no room for so-called "neutrality", nor is it acceptable when it is based on ignoring repression, political prisoners, torture, hunger and the lack of separation of powers. This strange and convenient fiction cannot be called neutrality.

The more than 40 deaths that have taken place in Venezuela should never have happened. They are the tragic result of a regime that stubbornly refuses to recognize that the only viable solution to the crisis in the country are immediate general elections.

The Inter-American Community, along with the rest of the International Community will continue to insist that this is the only way to return democracy to the country.

The time has come to negotiate once and for all the return of democracy and to agree on the terms for its reestablishment.

It is time to build bridges; bridges between Venezuela and democracy, between the country and its constitution, between human rights and the Venezuelan people.

It's time for the regional community to help reach an agreement with the leaders of the regime for the reestablishment of the country's institutions and for the return of democracy to Venezuela. The previous dialogue failed because it didn´t take into account the need to return democracy to the country.

It will not be easy, but the principles of democracy and human rights will guide us and force us to continue working for the benefit of the people of Venezuela.

Because as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Reference: E-045/17