AP EXPLAINS: Nicaragua’s exit from the OAS

NEW YORK (AP) – The Nicaraguan government announced Friday that it is withdrawing from the Organization of American States (OAS), the hemispheric body that brings together 34 countries in the Americas.

The Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denis Moncada, said at a press conference that his country was dissociating itself from the entity due to “its repeated interventionist actions.” However, the exit of the Central American nation from the body will not be as fast as it seems.


The rules that govern the functioning of the Organization of American States say that any member country can dissociate itself from the body when filing a complaint.

This is established in Article 143 of the OAS Charter, which lists all the norms on which the organization relies in this regard. This specific article indicates that the complaint must be submitted by means of a written communication to the OAS General Secretariat.

Moncada said on Friday that he sent that “official communication” to the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro. Spokesmen for the hemispheric body did not immediately confirm whether Almagro had received the document or what his reaction was. There was also no immediate comment on the OAS Twitter account.

After receiving the official notice from the member state that wants to leave the organization, the General Secretariat must inform the rest of the countries about the complaint, says Article 143.

After two years from the date the secretariat receives the notification, the member state will “be separated” from the organization. However, the article states, it will be withdrawn “after having complied with the obligations arising from this Charter.” Among the obligations are the membership dues to the organization that each country pays periodically. In addition, the legal department of the General Secretariat will have to analyze the reasons and justifications for which Nicaragua wants to leave the organization, said Manuel Orozco, of the non-profit organization Inter-American Dialogue.

“All of this has to be reviewed, because leaving the OAS implies renouncing a series of international agreements,” said Orozco.

The expert explained that over the years Nicaragua, like any other country, has joined regional agreements, has joined commissions related to the OAS, has worked on various issues, from the fight against drugs to support for young people, committing to contribute personnel or resources. The legal department must then resolve all that and recommend to Nicaragua how it can then disengage from the body, Orozco said.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had repeatedly accused Almagro of abusing his authority to show solidarity with the opposition in the South American country. In 2017, the Maduro government announced its departure from the OAS and in 2019 said it was celebrating that it was formalized. However, at that time the OAS Permanent Council recognized Gustavo Tarre as the representative of Venezuela, an ally of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

So Venezuela’s membership of the OAS depends on who you ask: Maduro says that his country does not belong to the entity while the OAS considers Venezuela an active state of the organization, with Tarre as its representative.

In another example, Cuba is considered by the OAS a non-active member state.

The OAS expelled Cuba from the organization in 1962 due to its adherence to the Soviet communist bloc and its fight with Washington after the revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959. That decision was annulled in 2009, but Cuba has not requested its reinstatement.

Honduras was suspended from the OAS in 2009 following the coup that ousted then-President José Manuel Zelaya from power. The OAS General Assembly decided to lift the suspension in 2011.


The OAS General Assembly last week approved a resolution declaring that the presidential elections held in Nicaragua this month “were not free, fair or transparent and lack democratic legitimacy.” The resolution called for instructing the OAS Permanent Council to analyze the situation in the Central American country, make a report before November 30, and then take “appropriate actions.”

Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, for example, says that the OAS can consider the suspension of a member state. Article 20 of the letter says that, in the event of a serious “alteration” of democracy, the Secretary General or any member country is empowered to immediately convene a Permanent Council to assess the situation.

Almagro said last week that the evaluation of the Permanent Council requested in the approved resolution is Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which speaks of “collective appreciation of the situation and adopting the decisions it deems appropriate.”


Orozco said that Nicaragua’s departure from the OAS negatively affects its international reputation.

“Nicaragua totally buried its credibility with that announcement,” said the expert.

The second implication is economic, he said, as it could lead to fewer loans from international entities.

“It would imply that the international community is going to rethink support for a dictatorial regime in terms of external financing,” Orozco said. “So that has implications in the relationship with the Monetary Fund, with the World Bank, with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.”

Other international and non-governmental organizations could also stop working with Nicaragua, he said.

“The effect is to postpone any possible economic recovery,” he said.


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