OAS Chief urges support for removing Venezuela’s president

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – The leader of the Organization of American States urged member countries Thursday to support efforts in Venezuela to hold a referendum on removing President Nicolas Maduro from office.

At a special meeting of its Permanent Council on the political and economic crisis in oil-rich but beleaguered Venezuela, OAS secretary general Luis Almagro said the country is in the midst of a “grave disruption of constitutional order.”

But the four-hour meeting ended with no decision on measures against Venezuela.

Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy, saddled with the world’s highest inflation rate, is in a dramatic free fall because of the drop in crude prices, and Maduro’s government has jailed opposition leaders.

he opposition has collected signatures to try to force a referendum on removing Maduro from power.

“The Permanent Council should stay on the right side of history and defend a people who need a voice,” Almagro told the assembly.

He said the council should express support for political prisoners in Venezuela and “support the will of the Venezuelan people in their call for a recall referendum” against Maduro — the former bus driver who was the handpicked successor to the late charismatic populist leader Hugo Chavez.