By Mick Krever, CNN
Venezuela faces a “rocky future” unless all parties can agree to dialogue, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“The only way in which the deep economic and political crisis that is happening can be solved is either they get along, and they try to settle things through a dialogue, or the possibility of having some foreign mediation,” Insulza said.
The stand-off between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition is heading for a perfect storm, with worrying signs that the worst protests in a decade could eventually lead to total economic collapse.
In an interview with Amanpour in Caracas earlier this month, President Maduro said that Venezuela did not need outside mediation.
“I think what we need is cooperation,” Maduro said. “We are not in despair. Venezuelans have a long history, so we are able to listen to each other, to talk to each other.”
But the two sides aren't talking to each other, and now more than three dozen people are dead – most recently a 28-year-old woman shot in the head after her bus was stopped at an opposition barricade.
The OAS itself has come under criticism for its inability to intercede in the crisis.
Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez penned an op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday, writing from the prison cell in which the government has locked him up.
“The OAS…has abstained from any real leadership on the current crisis of human rights and the looming specter of a failed state,” Lopez wrote. “To be silent is to be complicit in the downward spiral of Venezuela’s political system, economy and society, not to mention in the continued misery of millions.”
The organization “has the tools” to mediate, Insulza told Amanpour, but is powerless to do so unless its membership agrees.
“The problem is that the Organization of American States is exactly what its title calls – it’s an organization of states, represented by the governments.”
“If the governments are willing to act, they will act. If they are not willing to act, if there’s not a decision made by the governments to have some kind of action, then…no one can overcome that lack of agreement.”
It is an argument often put forward by international organizations like the OAS and United Nations, said Amanpour.
Another Venezuelan opposition leader, María Corina Machado, tried to use the OAS recently as a platform to push for a solution.
But most countries, allies of Venezuela, objected to her speaking. Panama tried to help her get around this by yielding its time to her, but a majority of the OAS members voted against formally discussing the issue.
“It’s weird,” Insulza admitted. “This is the only organization in the world that would let a country sit somebody the opposition of another country to speak on its behalf.”
But because the practice had been used before, Insulza said, he saw no reason to bar its use in this case.
“The only solution that exists, that is the dialogue among parties.”
“When there are 50 percent one position, another 50 percent on the other, [and] no rational center in between – the situation is certainly going to be rocky.”