Large Venezuelan flag flying over a crowd (© Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)
Supporters of interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó wave a Venezuelan flag as they gather during an assembly in Valencia, Venezuela. (© Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

The United States and 15 other members of the Rio Treaty passed a resolution September 23 in New York that paves the way for collective action against the former regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

The treaty, formally known as the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), has been in force since 1948 and commits its members to working together to defend democracy in the Americas region.

At the request of Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaidó, the treaty was invoked on September 11 and coincided with the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the U.S., the last time the TIAR was activated.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly during a ministerial meeting held in New York concurrent with the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, who led the U.S. delegation, told the representatives in attendance, “The former Maduro regime is a clear threat to peace and security in the Western Hemisphere.”

Among other results, the resolution:

  • Acknowledges the participation of the former Maduro regime in drug trafficking, money laundering and illicit financing.
  • Emphasizes the corruption of the former Maduro regime and its record of grave human rights violations.
  • Creates a legal framework for TIAR countries to take action against senior Maduro officials.

“We have the support and recognition of the world. Venezuela lives under a dictatorship and together we will exert pressure to find a solution to the crisis,” interim President Guaidó said from his personal Twitter account.

Passage also will create legal mechanisms for countries lacking sanctions laws to bar designated Venezuelans from entering and/or to impose economic sanctions.

The Rio Treaty Group will implement the resolution and schedule a high-level meeting in two months to review progress and recommend any additional action.

Recent deployment of Venezuelan personnel and equipment along the border with Colombia and the presence of illegal armed groups and terrorist organizations in Venezuelan territory demonstrate the active threat posed by the former Maduro regime.

Further, 4.4 million Venezuelans have fled the country. Of those who remain, 90% live in poverty, Sullivan said. “The Maduro regime’s rampant greed and lust for power caused this humanitarian crisis,” he told the meeting participants.