CARACAS, Venezuela, May 31 (UPI) -- Despite strong opposition by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the Organization of American States on Tuesday announced it will hold meetings over fears of Venezuela's diminishing democracy.
Under the OAS' Inter-American Democratic Charter, the international organization's Permanent Council can meet to discuss situations in which democracy has been seriously impaired in a member state. The OAS will hold Permanent Council meetings on June 10 and June 20 over Venezuela, whose consent was not required.
The OAS' Permanent Council includes one ambassador from each of the 35 member states who meet in Washington, D.C. Maduro on Monday said the OAS should leave Venezuela, calling the organization "enemies of the state seeking to divide and demoralize" Venezuela.
The use of the Democratic Charter is unprecedented and could see Venezuela's suspension from the OAS depending on the meetings and Venezuela's response.
The measure was initiated by Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the OAS and a fierce critic of Maduro, who said the meetings "should note the alteration of the constitutional order and how it impairs the democratic order" of Venezuela.
The alleged erosion of democracy is partly attributed to Venezuela's high court, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which has been repeatedly criticized as acting as an extension of the socialist regime established under former President Hugo Chavez.
The judiciary has handed multiple victories to Maduro since the Venezuelan opposition gained power of the unicameral National Assembly earlier this year. The court in April ruled an amnesty bill passed in parliament was unconstitutional. Meanwhile a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to cut short Maduro's term from six to four years was rejected.
On May 5 during a Permanent Council meeting, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodríguez said the use of the Democratic Charter would violate Venezuela's sovereignty and interfere with its internal affairs.
Almagro and Maduro had a recent spat after Maduro told journalists that Almagro "has been a traitor for a long time." Almagro replied by, among other comments, saying Maduro will "never be able to undo so much suffering, intimidation, misery and anguish you've created for your people."