A proposal sponsored by the United States to establish a mechanism to monitor "threats" to democracy in the Americas, was rejected by the majority of the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS), as the group’s General Assembly meeting came to an end on Tuesday.

The US proposal to impose an early-warning mechanism that would allow the OAS to intervene in a particular country was seen as a violation of the principles of sovereignty and self-determination.

“Madam Secretary, democracy cannot be imposed,” said Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the meeting on Tuesday.
The final declaration asks OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza -the first non US backed candidate to win that seat- to "propose recommendations and specific measures to provide assistance to member countries that request it."

The statement also says that any proposal by the OAS Secretary General must abide by the OAS charter which defends the principle of nonintervention and the right to self determination.

Venezuelan diplomats participating at the Assembly argued that the U.S. proposal is clearly aimed at targeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose anti-capitalist rhetoric is strongly opposed by the US. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez Araque, said that the OAS "does not have the power to evaluate the state of democracy in the region’s countries."

"Democracy can thrive in many ways as long as those forms honor universal principles such as freedom of speech and respect for human rights," Rodriguez said.

"The quality of life is simply nonexistent and as a result of that, the quality of democracy is simply precarious and its strength uncertain... Democracy and poverty are just incompatible," the Venezuelan Minister said. The OAS is currently drafting the Social Charter of the Americas, a proposal put forward by Venezuela last year aimed at addressing poverty in the hemisphere.

On the other hand, the Foreign Minister of the Bahamas also rejected interventionist policies pointing out that "people don’t want to be put in a situation where it appears that a country or particular countries are being targeted for special treatment and isolation in an arbitrary fashion."

"The United States wants to impose a global dictatorship," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said last Sunday during his weekly live television program. "Behind us are the times in which the OAS was an instrument of the United States, because Latin America is not the same continent it was before."

The rejection of the U.S. proposal is seen as another diplomatic failure for the Bush administration in the Americas, as the continent shifts to the left. Two US-backed candidates in the recent OAS vote to elect the new Secretary General were rejected by the majority of the hemisphere’s countries for the first time since the creation of the organization.

Efforts to isolate Venezuelan President Chavez have failed, in spite of visits to Latin American countries by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, and President Bush himself.