WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a former Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today released the following statement praising Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro for invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter regarding Venezuela and urging all OAS member states to support today’s action:
“The OAS is at its best when it holds its member states accountable and insists that all leaders in the Americas respect democratic institutions.  By invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter and calling a Permanent Council meeting on Venezuela, Secretary General Almagro is ensuring that the OAS carry out its most fundamental duty.  His strong leadership is more important now than ever.
“The Venezuelan people held elections in December in which the country’s political opposition won an overwhelming majority of seats in the National Assembly.  Yet, President Maduro has taken undemocratic steps to block the Assembly and the will of the Venezuelan people at every turn.  Each day, I read disturbing reports of the economic stress facing the Venezuelan people, the constant shortages and an increasing inability to access the most basic medicines and medical supplies.  At such a desperate economic time, President Maduro has chosen to add fuel to the fire by continuing to undermine his country’s democratic institutions.
“There is no silver bullet to solve Venezuela’s woes and the road out of this mess is going to be long and difficult.  However, one thing is certain: the best way to support the Venezuelan people is through multilateral means.  That’s why I urge all member states to join Secretary General Almagro in supporting today’s action.  A serious discussion at the OAS about how to respond to President Maduro’s undemocratic actions is not only important for Venezuela but also for the hemisphere as a whole.”