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The Venezuelan people would have appreciated such moral support

UN Security Council’s Futile Talkfest on the Venezuela Crisis


By —— Bio and Archives--January 26, 2019

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UN Security Council’s Futile Talkfest on the Venezuela CrisisThe United Nations Security Council met on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, after overcoming a procedural vote demanded by Russia. The Putin regime claimed that the economic, political and humanitarian crisis wrought by the catastrophic actions of the Maduro regime was not a proper agenda item for the Security Council to consider. The Security Council, by a procedural vote of 9 in favor (Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, United States) to 4 against (China, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa), with 2 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia), adopted the agenda item on Venezuela.

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Secretary Pompeo declared that standing on the sidelines was not a viable option

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did not attend the meeting personally. Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under Secretary General of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, addressed the Security Council in his place. She described the situation in Venezuela as “dire,” noting that “nearly all 30 million Venezuelans are affected by hyperinflation and a collapse of real salaries; shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies; deterioration of health and education services; deterioration of basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, transport and urban services.” She repeated Secretary General Guterres’ call earlier in the week for peaceful dialogue to prevent worsening tensions, without expressing any moral clarity as to where the blame lies for Venezuela’s deepening crisis. “There are divergent visions of what the future should hold for Venezuela. But we must all be guided, however, by the pursuit of the wellbeing of the Venezuelan people, and work together so that their needs are fully met,” she said.

By contrast, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had requested the Security Council meeting, minced no words in denouncing the dictatorial regime in Venezuela, referring to Nicolas Maduro as its “former” president. He shared stories of Venezuelans whose future was stolen by the failed policies, oppression, and corruption of the Maduro regime’s “illegitimate mafia state.”  He reaffirmed that the U.S. “stands with the Venezuelan people.” He urged other nations to follow the example of the United States and Latin American countries who have already recognized the legitimate government of interim President Juan Guaido. Mr. Guaido, Secretary Pompeo emphasized, had “declared himself interim president of Venezuela in accordance with Venezuela’s own constitution” and with “the full support” of the democratically elected opposition-led National Assembly and of the Venezuelan people.

Secretary Pompeo declared that standing on the sidelines was not a viable option. “Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” he said. Countries that know no freedom for their people, such as Russia, China, Iran, and Syria, “have publicly taken former President Maduro’s side,” he noted.

“China and Russia are propping up a failed regime in hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years”

Secretary Pompeo said that “China and Russia are propping up a failed regime in hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years. This money was never intended to help the Venezuelan people,” he added, “it lined the pockets of the Maduro regime, its cronies, and its benefactors.” Secretary Pompeo called out the cynicism of Russia and China in claiming to support international norms when they even blocked the issuance of a presidential statement by the Security Council in support of the Venezuelan people and democratic ideals. “It’s not a surprise that those who rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits,” Secretary Pompeo said. Cuba is even worse. He said that “no regime has done more to sustain the nightmarish condition of the Venezuelan people than the regime in Havana. For years, Cuban security and intelligence thugs, invited into Venezuela by Maduro himself and those around him, have sustained this illegitimate rule.”

Secretary Pompeo concluded his remarks by calling “on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role in it.” Not surprisingly, there is no chance of that happening.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia was the most strident in accusing the United States of seeking to impose its own solution on the Venezuelan people and seeking regime change. “Regime change is a favorite geopolitical game of the United States,” Ambassador Nebenzia said, adding that the U.S. was trying to bring back the Monroe Doctrine. He called Mr. Guaido’s self-declared interim presidency a coup d’état. He asked Secretary Pompeo directly whether the U.S. is prepared to use military force against a sovereign state in violation of international law. Secretary of State Pompeo ignored the bait. Ambassador Nebenzia chided the Latin American countries who, along with the U.S., had chosen to recognize Mr. Guaido as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. He warned that any one of them could become the next target of United States intervention. He also asked in mocking fashion how European countries would feel if the Russian Federation brought the yellow vest protests in France to the Security Council.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza used his invitation to address the Security Council in the Maduro regime’s defense to recite a long list of grievances against the United States. “The United States is not behind the coup d’état,” said Jorge Arreaza. “It is in advance. It’s in the vanguard of the coup d’état. It is dictating orders, not only to the Venezuelan opposition but also to the satellite governments in the region and, it seems, in Europe and the other parts of the world.” For emphasis, he called the European nations insisting on an 8-day deadline for calling a new election “lackeys” of the United States. “Where do you get that you have the power to establish a deadline or an ultimatum to a sovereign people?” he asked. “Where do you get this? It’s almost child-like.”

Venezuela’s foreign minister tried to use Venezuela’s constitution and the UN Charter to argue that what Mr. Guaido had done was illegitimate. “I challenge you to find a legal basis for the self-proclamation of an individual who wasn’t elected by anyone as president,” he said. He accused the U.S. of aggression and incitement, blaming Venezuela’s economic woes on a non-existent “blockade,” by which he probably meant perfectly legitimate sanctions.

Several Security Council members, in addition to Russia and China, expressed concern that the Security Council was being asked to put its nose in a matter that should be none of its concern. Some objected to what they characterized as outside interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela. They are wrong. The mass migration of more than 3 million Venezuelans to neighboring countries, caused by the economic, humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela, has created a significant danger to regional stability. It is not solely an internal domestic affair. Countries in the region tried to solve the problems raised by the Venezuela crisis through regional organizations and mediation, but they failed. The situation is getting more volatile by the day, with the potential of causing a threat to peace and security well beyond Venezuela’s borders.

 

The UN Charter provides mechanisms for member states and regional organizations to seek the assistance of the Security Council in cases where disputes that “might lead to international friction” and continue unresolved would be “likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” Moreover, it is not foreign intervention or a coup d’état to back a call on behalf of the repressed Venezuelan people for a free and fair presidential election. To the contrary, those who are calling for such an election and are backing Mr. Guaido until the election can be held are redressing Maduro’s own coup d’état. Maduro engineered a coup against the Venezuelan people and their constitution by rigging the prior election under which he usurped executive power and by stripping the democratically elected National Assembly of its legislative powers in deference to his own pliant Constituent Assembly.

The issue is not whether the UN Security Council is authorized under the UN Charter to take action. It is. The issue is its paralysis, reminiscent of the Cold War, when major geopolitical forces and strategic interests come into play that prevent the Security Council from acting effectively in unison. Nevertheless, Secretary General Guterres should have attended the Security Council meeting personally and used it as an opportunity to denounce the Maduro regime by name for its flagrant repression of the Venezuelan people. He could have pointed to the migration crisis spawned by Maduro’s dictatorial rule. At least, he would have clearly put the UN’s moral authority up against one of the world’s worst human rights abusers. The Venezuelan people would have appreciated such moral support.


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Joseph A. Klein, CFP United Nations Columnist -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.


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