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  • Secretary General Luis Almagro during the OAS meeting inauguration ceremony on Monday.

    Secretary General Luis Almagro during the OAS meeting inauguration ceremony on Monday. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 June 2016

Amid criticism of the regional bloc's leadership, the 34 member countries of the Organization of American States will meet in the Domincan Republic.

The Organization of American States (OAS) begins its General Assembly on Tuesday in the Dominican Republic, amid strong criticism from member states on recent actions by Secretary General Luis Almagro against fellow member state, Venezuela.

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The organization will nonetheless focus on other issues, including two declarations on sustainable development and Indigenous peoples' rights that the hemispheric bloc is set to approve after years of negotiations.

Almagro has received harsh rebukes from various Latin American and Caribbean governments for recent actions and statements including an undiplomatic letter addressed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Almagro has attempted to invoke the so-called "Democratic Charter" to suspend Venezuela from the organization, but member states instead voted unanimously to back mediated talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition parties.

It is expected that some states will demand sanctions against Almagro.

During the inauguration Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the OAS must respect the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries. She said Secretary-General Almagro is promoting a parliamentary coup in Venezuela.

She also denounced the new right-wing governments in the region for trying to bring down democratically elected progressive governments."I demand respect for Venezuela," said Rodriguez, "Venezuela is a free and sovereign nation."

Rodriguez recounted the U.S. invasion to the Dominican Republic 51 years ago, the same country holding the meeting, that was supported by the OAS. She demanded an official apology from the U.S. and the organization.

Reuters reported U.S. Secretary of State Joh Kerry said that the U.S. did not support efforts by Almagro to suspend Venezuela from the regional diplomatic bloc. Kerry was quoted to back calls for Venezuela to “honor its own constitutional mechanisms, including a fair and timely recall referendum,” adding that Washington was committed to address the country’s "deeply troubling" situation.

Following the remarks, Rodriguez called out Kerry as a bully and claimed U.S. interference.

“I see now this is ordered by Washington. I know they are on Washington’s payroll to meddle in the domestic affairs of Venezuela,” she said.

The organization has long been criticized for responding to U.S. interests in the region. Following Cuba's ban from the OAS since 1962 for “adopting a Marxist government,” Cuban leader Fidel Castro referred to the organization as the "Ministry of Colonies" for the United States.

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The member states also plan to discuss environment, community development as well as migration and human rights, among other topics.

They will also approve a resolution that calls for a mediated solution between Argentina and the United Kingdom regarding the sovereignty of the Malvinas islands.

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