One Hundred Days of Solitude

SANTIAGO – When violence flared up in Ukraine and protesters began dying at the hands of government agents, the European Union threatened sanctions against Ukrainian officials responsible for “violence and excessive force.” President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv, leaving behind a private zoo with exotic pigs and goats – and also the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland, who were in town trying to broker a deal to end the violence.

But when violence flared up – virtually simultaneously – in Venezuela and protesters began dying at the hands of government agents, the Organization of American States raised its voice to announce that...it would not raise its voice. The situation was up to Venezuela to sort out, the OAS stated. Foreign ministers from other Latin American countries are nowhere to be seen in Caracas – certainly not denouncing repression and demanding an end to the violence. Meanwhile, the body count keeps rising.

The contrast highlights what everyone already knows: Latin America’s regional institutions are weak – even weaker than Europe’s. But it also reveals something else: a morally crooked logic that condemns governments and leaders to remain silent in the face of aggression, repression, and even death, because to say anything would be tantamount to “intervention” in another country’s internal affairs.

It was not always like this. Not long ago in Latin America, life and liberty were deemed to be universal rights, to be defended across national borders.