efe-epaWashington

The Organization of American States on Monday approved "by a majority" a declaration stating that there is a "serious unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order" in Venezuela and demanding that the Nicolas Maduro government restore "the full authority" of the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a majority.

The text was approved by 17 of the 21 states present in the meeting hall, with abstentions by only four nations: the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Belize and El Salvador.

Voting for the declaration were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the United States, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

The text was not submitted to a vote, but rather simply approved by a majority of the states present, the Permanent Council's interim president, Honduran Ambassador Leonidas Rosa Bautista, said.

Not present in the chamber at the time of the resolution's presentation and debate were the envoys from Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, who left the session after denouncing it as "illegal" and an "institutional coup d'etat," given that it was held despite the fact that Bolivia, which holds the rotating OAS presidency, had ended it earlier in the day.

The resolution, the firmest text so far approved by the OAS against the Maduro government, includes the possibility that "insofar as necessary," the body will undertake additional diplomatic moves to foster normalization and the restoration of full democratic institutions in Venezuela, including convening a ministerial meeting.

The Council said that "it is essential that the government of Venezuela ensure the full restoration of the democratic order."

The signatory nations urged Venezuela to "act in the coming days to guarantee the separation and independence of the constitutional powers and restore the full authority of the National Assembly," according to the reading of the test by Peruvian Ambassador Ana Rosa Valdivieso.

Earlier, the Bolivian and Venezuelan ambassadors had interrupted the session discussing the Venezuelan situation just after it started, calling it "illegal" and a "coup d'etat."

Bolivian envoy Diego Pary, who is the interim president of the OAS Permanent Council, said that "a friendly country" (Honduras) was assuming the Council presidency "illegally" and in a manner resembling a "coup d'etat."

Pary left the meeting hall visibly angry after his remarks, but remaining behind was Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada, who said that he considered the session "a coup d'etat."

The OAS session was halted because Venezuela continued interrupting, despite the fact that the Argentine, Colombian and Canadian ambassadors requested that the body move to the day's agenda.

OAS legal adviser Jean Michel Arrighi told the Council that the session could begin because the required quorum of 12 nations were present and that - given the fact that the current president (Bolivia) and vice president (Venezuela) were not on hand - the longest-serving ambassador to the organization, namely the Honduran representative, in that case, was responsible for presiding.