Just when the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) is beginning to champion regional efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela, the Trump administration is proposing drastic U.S. budget cuts for international organizations that could paralyze the institution.
President Donald Trump is asking Congress to cut 50 percent of U.S. funding for the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which pays U.S. dues to the United Nations, the OAS and other international and regional groups, according to news reports disclosed by Foreign Policy magazine.
The cuts would be part of a 37-percent slashing of the State Department budget. At the same time, the Trump administration is asking Congress for a $54 billion increase in military spending, U.S. officials say.
Setting aside the fact that diplomacy and “soft power” are much cheaper and effective than military spending, Trump’s proposed cuts in funding for international organizations could hardly come at a worse time for Latin America.
After decades of irrelevance under previous leaderships, the 34-country OAS has become the region’s best option to restore democracy in Venezuela.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has taken the lead in asking Latin American countries to apply the organization’s Democratic Charter against Venezuela’s authoritarian regime, which would bring about collective regional pressure for free elections in that country. …