Once the champion of regional integration and human rights, Brazil has been changing its foreign policy approaches and now it is the enemy of the Inter American Human Rights System and an active promoter of “non-intervention” in terms of democracy and human rights.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ordered a review of relations with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) after the regional body issued interim measures to protect indigenous rights-tribes and asked the government to suspend construction of Brazil’s $17 billion Belo Monte dam last April. Since then Brazil joined forces with the autocrat from Venezuela, Mr. Hugo Chávez, to conspire against the Organization of American States (OAS) and also has been trying to control or eliminate the powers of the Inter American Human Rights Commission.

Recently the Brazil OAS Permanent Mission has been blackmailing the organization suspending the annual maintenance mandatory country quota trying to force the organization to a technical shutdown. The Brazilian Government debt is US $ 6.3 million, and they are willing to pay the quota if the OAS “behavior” changes in favor of the new empire of the Americas.

The majority of the governments have been paying their quotas with the exception of Brazil and Venezuela. The case of Venezuela is just more of the same buffoonery of Mr. Chávez. Venezuela has been actively promoting a new organization called CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) to replace the OAS, excluding Canada and United States from the “new” organization, but a country with a debt of US $ 2.5 million to the OAS and with similar debts in all the international institutions it is not the strongest base for a new organization. The CELAC it is just another ineffective Presidential Club in the region with lot of discourses and lack of programs. If fact their “democratic” clause it is just a mechanism to protect presidents or autocrats in power, but it is not a mechanism to promote a defend democracy. An organization designed by Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will be far from democratic and human rights/Civil rights will not be a priority.

The OAS lives one of its worst moments, broke with the worst General Secretary in its history and a week leadership in the region.  In fact, the OAS only has US $ 50,000 in hand to cover all its December operations.

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Even though I believe that Mr. Jose Miguel Insulza must quit, allowing the OAS to elect a better leader, and that the organization needs a major auditing to evaluate possible missuses and corruption inside the organization and a fundamental reform to be more efficient, the worst thing that we can do right now is to allow Brazil and Venezuela to get away with their plan to shut down the organization.

Killing the OAS will also kill the Inter American Human Right System leaving the region without institutions that actively protect human rights. There are several things that we can save from the OAS with innovation and with political will. The OAS needs a new responsible leadership but leaving the decision in the hands of the autocrats Rafael Correa, Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega or satisfying Brazil new imperial mode it is not a cleaver move.

Replacing the OAS with ALBA, CELAC or with any other mockery of an institution will not solve regional challenges.

Dr. Carlos Ponce is the elected general coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, lecturer at Tufts University and member of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy and the ISC of the Community of Democracies. Twitter: @ceponces   http://twolatinamericas.blogspot.com

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