Pompeo tells divided Security Council nations should support change in Venezuela

United Nations — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on all members of the United Nations Security Council Saturday “to support Venezuela’s democratic transition.”

Pomeo was at the U.N. to garner support for the presidency of opposition leader and self-proclaimed President Juan Guaidó, and to urge nations to abandon the government of Nicolas Maduro, who was inaugurated for a second term earlier this month after an election that was considered a sham.  

He spoke of the desperate conditions in Venezuela, where protests in the past week have turned deadly. The Trump administration is urging the world to follow its lead to recognize Guaidó as the nation’s legitimate interim leader.

“We stand with the Venezuelan people as they seek to build a better life,” Pompeo told the Security Council. “We cannot ignore the suffering or tyranny taking place in this proud nation. Neither should other countries who care about freedom and prosperity.”

“Our nations must stand up for the rule of law, and support the leader who the Venezuelan people have affirmed as their legitimate interim president. It is our hope that free and fair elections happen as soon as possible,” he said. 

After Pompeo left, his newly-appointed front man for Venezuela policy, former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, said the the regime is hiding behind the laws and constitution of Venezuela, while imprisoning opponents: “Democracy never has to be imposed, it is tyranny that has to be imposed.” 

But support in the Council was divided, and an effort to have a statement approved failed before the meeting began.

Russia’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, called the U.S attempt to pass a statement “an unethical ploy,” said the Trump administration’s support for Guaido is a “coup d’etat.”

The U.N. meeting took place place at a time of extreme volatility in Venezuela, where the economy is in a downward spiral and hyperinflation is making life impossible despite the country’s oil revenue. Nearly a tenth of the population has fled in recent years.

On Wednesday, President Trump recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president after he declared himself the country’s acting leader.

The U.S., along with Canada, the European Union, the Organization of American States and an alliance of over a dozen Latin American nations, have dropped their relations with the Maduro government, while Russia, China, Mexico, and Cuba have stood firm on their relations.

The European Union, in a statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, called for elections over the coming days.

The U.K.’s Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Alan Duncan gave a deadline. “We believe that Juan Guaidó is the right man to take Venezuela forward. … We will recognize him as constitutional interim president if new elections are not announced within 8 days.”

The representative from the Maduro government, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said, “Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not.”

Categories: International News, US & World News

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