8472nd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Venezuela Part 1

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26-Feb-2019 03:42:44
Venezuelans must resolve crisis themselves, Security Council delegates agree while differing over legitimacy of contending parties at 8472nd meeting.

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The Security Council returned today to the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela for the second time in as many months, with speakers debating whether to press for free and fair elections under international supervision or to encourage the Government of President Nicolás Maduro to open dialogue with the opposition, free of external interference.

Nearly 40 Member States participated in today’s meeting, including Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, who accused the United States of using humanitarian assistance as a cover for aggression. He also called upon the Council to adopt a resolution rejecting the use of force, or the threat of such use, against his country.

Briefing members at the outset of the meeting, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, described “an alarming escalation of tensions” since she last briefed the Council on 26 January (see Press Release SC/13680). Citing last weekend’s violence on Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, and the scale of the unfolding humanitarian crisis, she reiterated the Secretary-General’s appeal for calm and restraint.

“Much more remains to be done to address the extremely urgent needs of the Venezuelan people,” she said, emphasizing that the United Nations stands ready to expand its efforts, in accordance with humanitarian principles and working with Venezuelan institutions to help those in need. The Secretary-General is prepared to exercise his good offices if the parties so wish. “Venezuelan actors across the political spectrum have the responsibility to put the interests of the Venezuelan people at the centre of their actions at this most critical time,” she stressed.

In the ensuing debate, Elliott Abrams, Special Representative for Venezuela of the United States — whose delegation requested the meeting — said President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela is dancing as people are dying. While claiming that the delivery of aid is a cover for political intervention, his regime is using violence, including by armed gangs, against the Venezuelan people, he added. The United States and many other countries support democracy and call for humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans, he noted, emphasizing that free, fair elections and Mr. Guaidó’s safe and swift return are the answer to the tyranny. “The people of Venezuela need our solidarity and help,” he said. “Let us resolve to give them that help.”

By contrast, the Russian Federation’s representative said the Council should not be focusing on the situation “in” Venezuela, but rather the situation “around” it. What occurred on the Colombian border on 23 February was not an attempt to deliver aid, but to breach the frontier of an independent State, he said, stressing: “If the United States wanted to deliver aid, it would do so through an international aid agency.” Proposing a way forward, he said Venezuela’s people must resolve their own problems through solutions based on respect for national sovereignty. He recalled that, following a recent Security Council statement expressing concern about demonstrations in Haiti, Council members pledged to work with that country’s Government to address pressing issues. Perhaps the United States and other Council members would support a similar text for Venezuela, he suggested.

Foreign Minister Arreaza of Venezuela said it is fitting for the Council to address the international aggression faced by his country’s people. Without a doubt, such aggression threatens regional and international peace and stability, he added, noting also that it also violates the Charter of the United Nations. He went on to criticize Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo’s briefing as biased, insisting that his country’s security forces used no deadly force during last weekend’s border incidents. “The coup failed”, and now is the time to return to sanity and to respect international law and Venezuela’s Constitution, he asserted. The Government is now waiting to sit down with the opposition to decide Venezuela’s future without interference from anyone, most of all the United States, he said, expressing hope that the White House will give Mr. Guaidó its approval to begin talks.

Peru’s delegate cited the Lima Group Declaration, saying it reflects the Latin America and Caribbean region’s awareness of the crisis. Noting that the situation, exacerbated by massive migration, is affecting the region’s stability, he emphasized that Venezuelans themselves must carry out a transition to democracy without using force. Peru calls for the holding of free and fair elections under international monitoring mechanisms, he added.

Cuba’s representative said the United States is fabricating pretexts for military aggression against Venezuela. Emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the country’s national elections of May 2018, he said the Governments trying to deliver humanitarian aid are the same ones exerting pressure for regime change. Reaffirming Cuba’s support for President Maduro, she stressed that peace and security in Latin America must be defended and upheld.

Colombia’s representative, citing this week’s meeting of the Lima Group as a good example of multilateral action, emphasized the impact of Venezuela’s situation on his own country. There is urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to the country’s people, he said, adding that the dictatorship there has ceased to think about its own population.

Bolivia’s delegate urged the Council to pay close attention to the assertion by the United States that “all options are on the table”. Such a policy has proven tragic for many countries in the region, he said, recalling the invasions of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panama and Haiti. It also awakens memories of the Iran-Contra affair, the Monroe Doctrine and the decision by the United States to post photos of Muammar al-Qadhafi’s assassination on Twitter, he added.

Nicaragua’s representative said he was appalled by the threats issued by some members, emphasizing that aggression and hostility must end. People must be able to choose their own future, he added, stressing: “We have opted for peace and not war.” Nicaragua welcomes international efforts to defend and uphold international law. Underlining his country’s support for President Maduro, he declared: “We must know how to choose a life with respect and uphold the nobility of our soul.”

Mexico’s representative said any humanitarian concern must be addressed through neutral international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or agencies of the United Nations.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Poland, South Africa, Kuwait, Germany, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, China, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Suriname (on behalf of several members of the Caribbean Community), Paraguay, Uruguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, Belize, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Dominica.

The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 7:58 p.m.


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