The Latest: US, Russia draft rival UN Venezuela resolutions
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Venezuela’s political crisis (all times local):
The United States and Russia have drafted rival U.N. resolutions on Venezuela, reflecting the Trump administration’s support for opposition leader Juan Guaido and Moscow’s backing for President Nicolas Maduro.
The U.S. draft resolution, seen by AP on Tuesday, expresses “deep concern that the presidential elections of May 20, 2018 were neither free nor fair” and “calls for the immediate start of a political process leading to free, fair and credible presidential elections, with international electoral observation.”
The Russian draft criticizes “attempts to intervene” in Venezuelan domestic affairs, expresses “concern over the threats to use force” against the country, and calls for a peaceful resolution of the stalemate.
Neither draft resolution has been circulated to the U.N. Security Council. If they are, it is highly likely that both would be defeated — with the U.S. and Russia using their vetoes if necessary.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters late Tuesday that the U.S. draft is “completely unbalanced” and “we thought that it was timely and appropriate to support the territorial integrity, unity, sovereignty of Venezuela.”
He said the Venezuelans should solve the issue peacefully, “with no even hint of military intervention.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza says he told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the government of Nicolas Maduro wants “deepening cooperation” with U.N. agencies in areas “impacted by the international assault by the United States.” But he insists “there isn’t a humanitarian crisis” and wouldn’t say whether he asked the U.N. for food or medicine.
Arreaza told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York Tuesday that he has asked “the U.N. and the world” to promote the lifting of U.S. sanctions that have frozen Venezuelan assets.
He warned that sanctions “have already led to immense suffering and if it goes further Donald Trump ... would have blood on his hands.”
Arreaza said Maduro wants to avoid a U.S. coup or intervention “because it would only lead to an even worse situation, and it would be a situation akin to what happened in Vietnam.”
As for the opposition led by Juan Guaido, he said, “This is an opposition which is betting on civil war, on violence and on a coup d’etat.”
He said the Maduro government is waiting for the opposition “to deign to sit down with us,” and while the government has no “preconditions,” he indicated it must “decolonize” and cut ties with the United States.
Arreaza came to the press conference from a three-hour meeting of countries in the 120-member Nonaligned Movement. He said there was a lot of “solidarity” with Maduro’s government and non-interference in a country’s affairs, singling out Caribbean and southern Africa regional groups and Iran.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has set a deadline to bring humanitarian aid into the country over objections of President Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido said Tuesday that he’s mobilizing caravans of Venezuelans to get the emergency food and medicine across the border in Colombia.
He set the date as Feb. 23, a month after he declared his constitutional right to take presidential powers.
He also announced a second collection point for the aid across the border in Brazil.
Maduro has refused the assistance, saying it’s part of a Trump administration coup aimed at exploiting Venezuela’s vast oil resources.
Speaking before masses of supporters, the opposition leader restated his appeal to Venezuela’s military, which so far has remained loyal to Maduro.
Venezuela’s opposition has called its supporters into the streets across the country in a campaign to break the military’s support of President Nicolas Maduro, who refuses to let emergency food and medicine from the United States across the border.
Maduro also is rallying supporters to demonstrations following more than a month of pressure led by opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, who has proclaimed himself the country’s legitimate president.
The struggle now centers on emergency food and medicine from the United States warehoused on the Colombian border town of Cucuta. Guaido vows to deliver it to Venezuelans who need it, but Maduro remains firmly in power and has the backing of the military, which has been blocking the aid he snubs as part of an effort to topple him.