Venezuela To Withdraw From OAS As Deadly Protests Continue

Venezuela says it will withdraw from Organization of American States (OAS), accusing the Washington-based grouping of meddling in its internal affairs.

The government made the announcement after the OAS voted to hold an meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the spiralling crisis in Venezuela.

Neighbours have expressed concern at mounting unrest in the country.

Violent protests against the government continued in the capital Caracas on Wednesday. One protester was killed.

He was hit by a tear gas canister during clashes with police.

Nearly 30 people have been killed since the wave of protests against President Nicolas Maduro began last month.

The Venezuelan government has accused the US trying to undermine Mr Maduro’s Socialist Party.

On Wednesday, Ms Rodriguez said the protests were part of an organised effort to defeat Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] we will present a letter of complaint to the OAS and we will begin a process that will take 24 months,” she announced in a televised statement.

BBC Latin America correspondent Will Grant says the move comes as little surprise.

Tensions in the organisation – and among Venezuela’s neighbours – have grown over what is seen by several member states as the government’s disregard for democracy amid mounting unrest.

Ms Rodriguez accused the OAS of having double standards by concentrating on what was happening in her country while ignoring alleged democracy violations in Brazil.

President Maduro has often strongly denounced the grouping.

Economic meltdown

Venezuela, an oil-rich nation, is going through a serious economic crisis.

Inflation is expected to reach 700% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, and there is shortage of many basic goods, including medicines.

The opposition blames the socialist policies of Mr Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for the economic meltdown.

But the government says the country is suffering from the effects of economic sabotage carried out by the business elite.

The latest series of protests began after the Supreme Court took over powers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly on 29 March.

It reversed its decision three days later, but opposition protesters were already on the streets in large numbers, seizing the opportunity to strike against Mr Maduro’s government.

The opposition wants early elections and the release of politicians arrested since the president took office in 2013.

Thousands of his supporters held a counter-rally in Caracas on Wednesday.

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