US seeks vote on UN resolution to allow aid into Venezuela
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. envoy Elliott Abrams said Tuesday the Trump administration will seek a U.N. Security Council vote this week on a resolution calling for Venezuela’s government to let in humanitarian aid and to hold free elections, and then sparred with Russia over possible U.S. military intervention in the politically divided country.
Abrams accused “armed gangs, thugs and criminals released from prisons” of being mobilized to control Venezuela’s borders — leading to the burning of humanitarian aid and Venezuelans being shot, beaten and killed as they tried to bring in food and medicine while President Nicolas Maduro “literally was dancing in Caracas.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded by accusing the United States of organizing and financing “a well-orchestrated operation” to violate his country’s sovereignty that Venezuelan armed forces and police “were able to contain ... without using any kind of deadly force.”
He claimed that “the aggression came from the Colombian side” and blamed opposition “thugs” and “bandits” for the violence, saying most of the injured were soldiers, police and other law enforcement personnel.
The opposing views of Saturday’s attempt by opposition leader Juan Guaido to deliver aid to Venezuelans facing an economic crisis and severe shortages of food and medicine reflected the deep divisions in the Security Council and among the U.N.’s 193 member states. Guaido is recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by the U.S. and over 50 other countries.
Arreaza called on the Security Council to support a resolution that rejects “the threat of the use of force against the Venezuelan people, and to rule that out once and for all.”
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose country backs the Maduro government and opposes any interference in a country’s internal affairs, said it is “perfectly clear” that Washington’s sole aim in creating Saturday’s “humanitarian show” was “not resolving the problems of Venezuela, not caring for the people, but regime change, including with threats to do so via foreign intervention.”
Abrams, clearly angered, shot back saying: “I reject from start to finish, I reject from top to bottom, accusations of military interventions from a country that is occupying the territory of Georgia and Ukraine.”
Before the council meeting, he told reporters that U.S. policy “is to use as much diplomatic and economic and political pressure as we can” along with the countries backing Guaido “to support the Venezuelan people’s desire for democracy.”
As for President Donald Trump’s statement that all options are on the table, he said, “presidents always say that, and rightly do.”
Abrams also accused Nebenzia of using “a lot of Cold War rhetoric” reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. The Russian ambassador retorted that Abrams “was an active participant in the Cold War.”
Arreaza reiterated that the Maduro government is waiting for the opposition to sit down and hold talks to find a solution without U.S. or other interference. “There are elections maybe, there are other possible solutions, maybe,” he said.
Nebenzia challenged the United States to approve the same Security Council press statement that it recently issued on Haiti.
In the Haiti statement, the Security Council expressed concern about “violent demonstrations and the death of innocent civilians,” reaffirmed its commitment to work with the country’s government and people “towards a more secure and prosperous future” and underscored the importance of key “actors” to engage “in good faith” on political, social and economic issues.
Nebenzia said Russia will circulate a proposed press statement changing Haiti to Venezuela.
Abrams said that for Venezuela, “the solution to the humanitarian situation is to get a government that works for rather than against the people of Venezuela.”
The United States “will have a resolution this week which will certainly call for the admission of humanitarian aid into Venezuela” and free elections, he said.