Thursday, September 12, 2019

Does Invoking the Rio Treaty Matter for Venezuela?

A majority of signatories to the treaty voted to invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (also known as the Rio Treaty). 
In a vote of the States Parties to the TIAR, the resolution was passed with 12 votes in favor (Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Dominican Republic), 5 abstentions (Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru) and 1 absent (The Bahamas).
There were rumors of this during months prior. For time being, it means meetings.

The text of the treaty states the following:
The High Contracting Parties agree that an armed attack by any State against an American State shall be considered as an attack against all the American States and, consequently, each one of the said Contracting Parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.  
This comes after Nicolás Maduro threatened Colombia, though as mentioned it's been in the works for a while and I wonder how seriously anyone takes that threat anyway. Instead, as the U.S. Ambassador said, "attack" is being reframed as "creating instability."
The Rio treaty was born after the cold war, but it is an instrument to unite the region to face all types of threats, from conventional war, to terrorist attacks, and now to new threats to the stability of the region. 
Colleagues, there can be no serious question that the actions of the former Maduro regime have disturbed the stability of the region. 
The words "stable" and "stability" do not appear anywhere in the treaty, but it does provide some wiggle room with a reference to "an aggression which is not an armed attack or by an extra-continental or intra-continental conflict, or by any other fact or situation might endanger the peace of America." And bingo! The U.S. Ambassador uses those words:
The humanitarian crisis is not the only threat to regional stability. The mismanagement and decline of the former Venezuelan government has allowed the rise of narco-traffickers, trafficking of arms and people, and irregular armed groups that further threaten the peace of the American region. Indeed, in many cases, these traffickers in narcotics, arms and people, as well as other armed groups, benefit from the covert assistance of the former Maduro regime. The United States has sanctioned many top Maduro officials for their roles in arms trafficking and systemic corruption. 
Mike Pompeo echoed that:
Recent bellicose moves by the Venezuelan military to deploy along the border with Colombia as well as the presence of illegal armed groups and terrorist organizations in Venezuelan territory demonstrate that Nicolas Maduro not only poses a threat to the Venezuelan people, his actions threaten the peace and security of Venezuela’s neighbors. 
Where, you might ask, are Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Mexico? Well, they are former members who pulled out, the first four as a group in 2012 (see Boz on this).

And what does this mean? Many of the signatories have already rejected use of force, so it's not likely a fig leaf for that. For the moment, it is a sign of regional unity, albeit a weak one given it was approved by only 12 countries (and the president of one of them controls no part of the government).

The Ministry of Foreign Relations denounced the move, calling it imperialist and noting how few governments had signed on to it. It also accurately noted that the last time there really was an extra-hemispheric attack, in 1982, the U.S. did not invoke the treaty.


Alfredo 12:01 PM  

These so called diplomats are just collecting their paycheck....empty words....

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