(Bloomberg) -- After using the Summit of the Americas for more than a decade to help whip up anti-U.S. sentiment in Latin America, Venezuela this week found out how isolated it truly is.
Barred from attending the two-day event, Venezuela had to watch as country after country condemned the administration of President Nicolas Maduro and called for the restoration of democracy and the respect for human rights. Even more humiliating, the U.S. and others demanded that Maduro open up the oil-rich country to aid as millions flee mounting hunger.
Maduro’s government “remains in a state of denial before a so evident crisis, while the rest of the world watches shocked how the Venezuelan people physically die of hunger,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday. “Venezuelans are our brothers, but we’ll be implacable against their oppressive regime.”
To see the rapid growth of migration out of Venezuela, click here
Twelve years after former President Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush the devil at the United Nations, complaining he could smell sulfur, the U.S. sat through one of its most comfortable regional summits ever. Sixteen countries including the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Colombia signed up to a declaration demanding the restoration of democracy in Venezuela and calling for Maduro to allow in aid. Only Bolivia and Cuba defended their ally, calling on the U.S. to end sanctions against the impoverished nation.
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the meeting may have contributed to a general sense of solidarity after be berated Latin America over immigration and trade. His replacement, Vice President Mike Pence, started his trip by meeting with Venezuelan dissidents and pledging more help for the millions fleeing the country.
“Nicolas Maduro promised the Venezuelan people renewed prosperity and it’s only brought a nation to its knees,” Pence said Saturday. “It has now collapsed into dictatorship and tyranny. Venezuela is essentially a failed state.”
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who was also attending the summit, said every option is on the table when asked if oil sanctions were still a possibility.
The eighth Summit of the Americas since they started in 1994 was meant to rally efforts to fight corruption after the so-called Carwash scandal in Brazil triggered arrests and political scandals from Argentina to the Dominican Republic.
Heads of states or their representatives from 34 countries pledged to take concrete steps to tackle graft, including a clause in government contracts to prevent bribery and the promotion of electronic systems for procurement and public works.
"Corruption weakens democratic governance, the trust of citizens in institutions and has a negative impact on the full enjoyment of human rights and sustainable development," the leaders said in a statement issued at the summit.
But the mass exodus from Venezuela made Maduro’s administration and the country’s economic collapse impossible to ignore. Colombia received about half a million Venezuela migrants last year, while Chile took over 100,000.
“Venezuela isn’t just a problem for Venezuelans,” Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said. “It’s a regional issue. They must recognize the humanitarian crisis.”
Far away in Caracas, Maduro was tweeting to celebrate the Day of the Americas.
“Long live Venezuela! Long live our American brothers,” he said. It is not clear who he was referring to.
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