CARACAS, Venezuela — The Organization of American States said Tuesday that it had begun taking steps against Venezuela to defend democracy in the region, a rare rebuke once reserved for countries undergoing crises like coups.
The move by the O.A.S., a United Nations-like group that represents every country in the hemisphere except for Cuba, now starts a process that could eventually lead to Venezuela being suspended from the body.
The O.A.S. cited what it called an “alteration of constitutional order” in Venezuela, which it said had “gravely affected” the country’s democracy. Sergio Jellinek, a spokesman for the body’s secretary general, Luis Almagro, said Venezuela now was plagued by “a political system with no outcomes where the government operates by decree.”
Venezuela’s government, with its low popularity and one of the world’s worst economic collapses, is facing a growing chorus accusing it of doubling down on authoritarianism.
President Nicolás Maduro this month called a state of emergency that expanded his powers against opponents.
Venezuela’s Legislature, controlled by rivals of the country’s governing leftists for the first time in more than a decade, has been stymied by…