With Venezuela Buckling under Severe Shortages, Security Council Emergency Session Calls for Political Solution to End Crisis, as Divisions Emerge over Path Forward

Report
from UN Security Council
Published on 26 Jan 2019 View Original

SC/13680

SECURITY COUNCIL
8452ND MEETING (AM)

Foreign Minister Rejects Pressure by Self-Proclaimed President, Decries United States Attempts to Meddle in Domestic Affairs

Following widespread protests and political upheaval in Venezuela — a country plagued by food shortages, deteriorating basic services and an inflation rate of more than 1 million per cent — all actors must exercise maximum restraint and avoid any further escalation, said a senior United Nations official during an emergency meeting of the Security Council today.

“The protracted conflict in [Venezuela] has had a grave impact on the population, with high levels of political polarization, growing humanitarian needs and serious human rights concerns,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Calling for a political solution with the interests of the population at its heart, she said nearly all 30 million Venezuelans are affected by the crisis and about 3 million are now living abroad, with many having fled to neighbouring countries. Recalling that the National Assembly leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself President amid widespread protests this week, she cited reports that protesters were injured and killed, and called for a full investigation into the possible excessive use of force. All parties must respect human rights and the rule of law, she stressed, warning that the situation could spiral out of control.

Ms. DiCarlo delivered her briefing after Council members voted to consider the situation in Venezuela, with nine delegations voting in favour of the meeting (Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, United States), four voting against (China, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa) and two abstaining (Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia). Prior to the vote, the Secretary of State of the United States, Michael Pompeo, underscored the need for the Council to support the Venezuelan people by taking up the issue. The Russian Federation’s delegate countered that the Council has no role to play in a domestic matter that poses no threat to international peace and security.

As delegates took the floor to voice their views, Mr. Pompeo said scenes of misery are now the norm in Venezuela, thanks to a failed socialist experiment. “Former President [Nicolás] Maduro bears full responsibility for this tragedy,” he said. Nine out of ten Venezuelans now live in poverty, three out of four hospitals have been abandoned and Mr. Maduro’s prisons are full of political prisoners. Calling on Member States to support the Venezuelan people by recognizing Mr. Guaidó’s interim Government, he said now is time for every nation to “pick a side”.

Joining in those calls, Peru’s representative said that, as a result of the repressive and anti-democratic policies of the Maduro regime, and the subsequent prospects for violence, the reality of the Venezuelan people is one of massive exodus. Peru alone has received some 700,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants to date, he said, citing the disproportionate use of violence, political persecution and crackdowns against the opposition. Expressing support for a democratic transition under Mr. Guaidó’s leadership, he called for a new round of elections to be held under international observation.

“Mr. Maduro must understand that this is his last opportunity and he must take it,” France’s delegate declared. Emphasizing that it is entirely legitimate that the Council considers this topic today, as the crisis is spilling into neighbouring countries, she said that, if elections are not held in eight days, France is ready, along with the European Union, to recognize Mr. Guaidó as interim President.

Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, rejected United States attempts to interfere in his country’s affairs, as well as Mr. Guaidó’s presidential self-proclamation as illegal. Listing some of Washington, D.C.’s numerous aggressions and interventions across Latin America, he said the Government of President Donald Trump is trying to build a physical wall on its border with Mexico, while also erecting an “ideological wall” and resurrecting Cold War strategies aimed at bringing misery to Latin America. So far, its unilateral sanctions have cost Venezuela $23 billion, causing economic turmoil. However, Caracas will find its own way forward without interference. “No Power […] can dictate to my country its destiny or its future.”

Bolivia’s delegate was among those speakers expressing solidarity with the Government of President Maduro. Emphasizing that Venezuela in no way represents a threat, he said the United States’ attempt to manipulate the situation only weakens the spirit of multilateralism and violates the will of the people. “If we are going to talk honestly about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, let’s talk about who is responsible for the sanctions,” he said. Those seeking regime change are only interested in gaining control over Venezuela’s oil reserves.

Similarly, Cuba’s representative stressed that the United States is dusting off its old imperialist policies in Latin America. Warning that a single spark could set off that “tinder box”, leading to an uncontrollable fire, she said the main threat to the region is bullying by the United States and its allies. She condemned in the strongest terms attempts to install a lackey Government, cautioning that history will judge those who push for a coup d’état.

The Russian Federation’s representative said today’s meeting was called with a single purpose — to continue destabilizing the situation in Venezuela through external influence. Voicing regret that the Council is being drawn into such attempts, he declared: “Regime change is a favourite geopolitical game of the United States.” Warning that Mr. Guaidó’s presidential self-proclamation artificially created a parallel Government, which is now pushing society “to the edge of a bloodbath”, he asked Mr. Pompeo whether his country is prepared to take up arms against another nation based on bogus allegations. Addressing his colleagues from Latin America, he warned that any one of them could become the next target of United States intervention.

While Council members were divided on the issue, several speakers struck a balanced tone, calling both for international attention to Venezuela’s grave humanitarian situation and full respect for the United Nations Charter principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in State affairs. In that vein, the representative of Barbados, on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), convened on 24 January, expressed concern about the plight of the Venezuelan people amid increasing volatility. The region must remain a zone of peace, she stressed, urging external forces to refrain from destabilizing actions and on the parties to “step back from the brink”.

Also speaking were senior officials and representatives of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Germany, Poland, China, Indonesia, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, Paraguay, Suriname, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Honduras, Antigua and Barbuda and Panama.

The meeting began at 9:16 a.m. and ended at 1:52 p.m.

Procedural Vote

VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), said his delegation cannot support attempts by the United States to introduce an agenda item on the situation in Venezuela, which constitutes a gross abuse of the prerogatives of the Council’s permanent members. The internal situation in that country is not on the agenda, he stressed, adding: “We do not see any external threats in the situation of Venezuela.” If anything, it is the shameless action of the United States and its allies — aimed at ousting a legitimate Government in breach of international law and attempting to engineer a coup d’état in Venezuela — which are a threat. He requested the Council to place the proposal to consider the situation in Venezuela to a vote.

MICHAEL POMPEO, Secretary of State of the United States, said the Council’s purpose is to safeguard international peace and security. The regime of Nicolás Maduro has forced many Venezuelans to flee, with most heading to neighbouring countries. “Former President Maduro bears full responsibility for this tragedy,” he said. Last week, delegations received a letter from the Organization of American States (OAS) describing the destabilizing impact of the situation across the region. However, the United Nations has yet to hold a formal session on the matter. Now, a new leader, Juan Guaidó, promises to bring security back to the region. “We must support the Venezuelan people, and do so right now.”

The Council then, by a procedural vote of 9 in favour (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.

Briefing

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, expressed concern about the dire situation in Venezuela and the fact that attempts at dialogue have not led to any agreement. “The protracted conflict in the country has had a grave impact on the population, with high levels of political polarization, growing humanitarian needs and serious human rights concerns,” she said. Calling for a political solution that has the interests of the population at its heart, she said nearly all 30 million Venezuelans are affected by the deterioration in basic service delivery, the lack of access to supplies, the drastic drop in oil prices and spiking inflation — estimated at 1.37 million per cent in 2018 — in their country. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), between 2015 and 2017, there were some 3.7 million undernourished people in Venezuela and infant mortality doubled. Meanwhile, some 3 million Venezuelans are now living abroad, many having fled to neighbouring countries.

Recalling that the National Constituent Assembly took over many of Venezuela’s critical functions in recent years, she said a regional dialogue led by the Dominican Republic terminated in mid-2018, having achieved no progress. The Government then went ahead with elections, and Mr. Maduro was declared the winner despite the main opposition party not having taken part. Most recently, there have been widespread protests, after which Mr. Guaidó declared himself President. Pointing to reports of deaths and injuries at those protests, she called for an independent investigation into the possible excessive use of force in such cases. Warning that the situation may spiral out of control, she recalled that, on 24 January, the Secretary-General emphasized the urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to dialogue and act in full respect of human rights and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are creating a mechanism to support Venezuelans fleeing the country. “All actors must exercise maximum restraint,” she stressed, urging them to pursue the well-being of the Venezuelan people.

Statements

Mr. POMPEO, Secretary of State of the United States, said scenes of misery are now the norm in Venezuela, thanks to a socialist experiment that has failed. He shared various stories of hardship faced by ordinary Venezuelans who struggle to access basic supplies such as food and medicine. The future of Venezuelans has been stolen by Mr. Maduro’s corruption and failures, he said, appealing to all nations to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people. Nine out of ten citizens now live in poverty, three out of four hospitals have been abandoned and Mr. Maduro’s prisons are full of political prisoners. The time is now to support the Venezuelan people and recognize the interim Government of Juan Guaidó. Now it is time for every nation to pick a side.

He said the United States attempted to find a way for the Council to speak with one voice, “but our Russian and Chinese colleagues refused to move this forward”. China and the Russian Federation are propping up a failed regime in order to recover billions of investment dollars that lined the pockets of Venezuelan cronies. But no one has supported Mr. Maduro more than the Government in Cuba, which provides security for him. Cuba has directly made matters worse. The United States and its partners are true friends of the Venezuelan people. He called on Venezuelans to work together to peacefully return the country to a secure and democratic path. President Donald Trump fully expects that United States diplomats will be protected, he said, warning: “Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our own people.” He called on all Council members to support the democratic transition and Mr. Guaidó’s role in it.

ALAN DUNCAN, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas of the United Kingdom, said Venezuelans are starving, children are malnourished and millions have fled to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. “The ranting socialism of Maduro has destroyed the entire country,” he stressed, asking: “How could any self-respecting Government possibly justify support for the nation-destroying Maduro?” Liberty, justice and freedom have been destroyed. Mr. Maduro has attempted to delegitimize the National Assembly and has ruthlessly put an end to free and fair elections. The political opposition has been supressed and its leaders have fled.

He applauded Mr. Guaidó’s decision to assert the legitimate authority of the National Assembly and commended the courageous steps taken by the Venezuelan people. Council members must recognize their responsibility to find a way out of the crisis. The United Kingdom stands with the European Union in demanding fair and free elections, as well as with OAS and the Lima Group [Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia] which referred Mr. Maduro to the International Criminal Court. The United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States that Mr. Guaidó is the right man to take Venezuela forward. “We will recognize him as the constitutional interim President if new elections are not announced in eight days,” he added. Venezuela needs an end to tyranny and corruption, he stressed, urging the Council to pave the way to a brighter future.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), expressing support for the Council’s consideration of the situation in Venezuela, said the discussion is part of its preventive diplomacy obligations. As a result of the repressive and anti-democratic policies of the Maduro regime, and the subsequent prospects of violence, the reality of the Venezuelan people is one of massive exodus. Peru alone has received some 700,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants to date, he said, recalling that his Government — together with other countries of the region — requested the International Criminal Court in 2018 to open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela by the Maduro regime since 2014. Citing the disproportionate use of violence, political persecution and crackdowns against the opposition as the Maduro regime’s main tactics, he said that, this week, some 180 popular protests were recorded, with reports of killings at the hands of pro-Maduro armed groups. Those actions must be investigated, he stressed, voicing support for a democratic transition in Venezuela under the leadership of President Guaidó. He went on to call for a new round of credible, democratic elections — under international observation — with full respect for the rule of law.

JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) emphasized that, in any country, political parties choose the provisions on which to conduct elections. Recalling that Venezuela held presidential elections in May 2018 on the basis of its national laws, he voiced deep concern over the “clear attempt […] to circumvent the country’s constitutional legal mechanisms which govern its elections”. Any grievances or disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner through the proper mechanisms, without external influence. Echoing calls for the swift de-escalation of tensions to prevent violence, and for the relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political dialogue, he urged the international community and United Nations entities to work with Venezuela and its neighbours to assist those in need. South Africa stands against any attempt at undue constitutional change of Government in Venezuela, he stressed, warning that the Council must never be an instrument that validates such attempts.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) appealed to Venezuelans to arm themselves with courage and wisdom to overcome this crisis. The solution, aside from being peaceful and democratic, must be in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution. The situation in Venezuela is an internal matter and does not pose a threat to international peace and security, and the Security Council must be cautious in that regard. The main focus of the United Nations and the Council should be on encouraging the parties to negotiate the differences that are “pushing them to the edge”. The international community “should not put fuel” on the situation, but rather, facilitate a dialogue. External interference will only exacerbate tensions. Recalling the suffering caused by foreign interventions in the Middle East and Africa — “only to change a regime and without any consideration of what could happen afterwards” — he said Equatorial Guinea acknowledges, respects and adheres to the constitutional order of Venezuela. He expressed hope that all parties will resolve their differences through dialogue, calling on Secretary-General António Guterres to use his diplomatic experience to mediate this crisis.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said it is entirely legitimate that the Council considers this topic today, as the crisis in Venezuela is spilling into neighbouring countries. France has called for a political and negotiated solution to the crisis. “Mr. Maduro must understand that this is his last opportunity and he must take it,” she warned. If elections are not organized and held in eight days, France is ready, along with the European Union, to recognize Mr. Guaidó as the interim President. She urged authorities to refrain from the use of force against democratically elected officials, members of civil society and peaceful protestors. The solidarity portrayed by regional countries should be hailed. France and the European Union are contributing where they can to mitigate the suffering of Venezuelans, particularly the youth, elderly and sick.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said the Council has a vital role to play in preventive diplomacy, in particular by addressing signs of conflict at an early stage. Describing prevention as one of its main tools, as well as a priority for his delegation, he expressed regret about recent reports of violence and casualties in Venezuela. The right to free expression and assembly must by fully respected, as prescribed by international law, he said, adding that all relevant actors should reject violence, commit to dialogue, act with restraint and undertake all efforts to prevent further loss of life. The Middle East also saw popular protests in recent years, which resulted in many tragedies and a destabilized region. Calling for international attention on similar trends in Latin America, he said the United Nations must nevertheless always adhere to the core Charter principles of sovereignty and mutual respect among nations.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said today’s meeting was called with a single purpose — to continue destabilizing the situation in Venezuela through external influence. Voicing regret that the Council — whose members stand divided on the issue — is being drawn into such attempts, he said the situation is a typical attempt by the United States to exert its influence and meddle in the internal affairs of other States. “This is nothing new,” he said, noting that Washington, D.C., has a long history of treating Latin America as a backyard where it can do whatever it wants, with no repercussions. Today, the actions of the United States are a pure reincarnation of the “so-called Monroe Doctrine”, of which President Donald Trump recently spoke openly. “Regime change is a favourite geopolitical game of the United States,” he said, citing its decades of intervention in Cuba, Nicaragua and elsewhere in the region, to say nothing of Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.

Recalling that the Venezuelan people elected President Maduro in May 2018, he said the United States subsequently began plotting to overthrow him. Earlier this month, the President of the National Assembly declared himself President, artificially creating a parallel Government which is now pushing society “to the edge of a bloodbath”. Emphasizing that Mr. Guaidó lacks majority support, he responded to threats of force by the United States, asking the Secretary of State whether his country is ready to take up arms against another nation based on bogus allegations. Far from respecting a rules-based world order, as Washington, D.C., claims, the overthrow of a sovereign Government would be a violation of Charter principles. To his colleagues from Latin America, he warned that any one of them could become the next target of United States intervention. In contrast to claims by some delegations, he said, the Russian Federation did not block the presidential statement proposed by the United States, but only proposed changes to it. “The ball now is on the side of the American delegation — it is up to them,” he stressed.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said hundreds of thousands of people in Venezuela have taken to the streets. Millions have fled to neighbouring countries. He urged the international community to recognize the National Assembly as the democratically elected institution in Venezuela and reaffirm and respect its constitutional powers. The Council must send two strong signals: Venezuelans are not forgotten and those in power must refrain from using violence. Those in power must also organize free and fair elections. “[The people of Venezuela] deserve this Council’s support,” he stressed. The Council must insist on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and notably, to hold peaceful protests. He called on all parties to respect the Constitution, stressing that the only way forward is through a political solution. Free, fair and credible elections are the only option to re-establish legitimate democratic institutions in Venezuela. He also expressed serious concern over the impact of the crisis on the region.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that the scale of Venezuelan migration and the humanitarian crisis has had tremendous consequences in neighbouring Latin American countries. She aligned herself with the common European position on Venezuela, recognizing Mr. Guaidó as the legitimate democratic voice of the National Assembly and calling for the holding of free and fair elections. The main objective is to guarantee the peaceful character of the transition process taking place in Venezuela. She condemned the indiscriminate use of force and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners. “This situation is unacceptable,” she stressed, adding that the people’s call for democracy can no longer be ignored.

MA ZHAOXU (China) called on all parties to stay rational and keep calm while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of Venezuela’s people. He expressed support for the Government’s efforts to uphold national sovereignty. All countries should abide by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, such as non-interference in each other’s affairs and refraining from the use of force. The situation in Venezuela does not constitute a threat to international peace and security. China is against adding the situation in Venezuela to the affairs of the Security Council. He called on all relevant parties to respect the choice of Venezuela’s people. Just now, the United States delegate made accusations against the position of China, he said, expressing strong opposition to such accusations. China does not interfere in other countries’ affairs.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) expressed concern over the situation in Venezuela, which deserves proper attention. The fact that millions of Venezuelans are seeking refuge across the border shows that Venezuela is facing serious conditions. According to United Nations data, more than 3 million Venezuelans have left the country. The situation should not be left unattended. He called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid an escalation of tensions. The Council must encourage the promotion of a political solution in which all stakeholders engage in a national dialogue through a credible, transparent and democratic process.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said the current threat facing the Latin American region “is abundantly clear”, and the Council therefore has a responsibility to consider the situation. Calling on all members to pull together in support of a peaceful resolution to the crisis, he echoed calls by the European Union and others for restraint and de-escalation by all parties. Expressing concern that, in recent days, mass popular protests were met with “senseless and indiscriminate violence” at the hands of Venezuela’s security forces, leading to the loss of life, he condemned that excessive use of force in the strongest terms and echoed calls for a full investigation. As the 2018 elections in Venezuela were in no way credible, he voiced support for the country’s National Assembly as a democratically elected institution and demanded a swift return to constitutional order. Recalling that citizens have spoken up courageously over recent years, he said that “today, they have taken to the streets in Caracas to demand the right to decide their own future”. Against that backdrop, Venezuela must commit in the next eight days to holding fair, transparent and credible elections in line with democratic standards.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) urged all actors involved in the situation in Venezuela to exercise restraint and commit to a peaceful dialogue aimed at ending the country’s ongoing violence. As part of its preventive diplomacy mandate, he said, the United Nations must support the diplomatic efforts of the subregion. He therefore appealed to all actors to overcome their differences and engage in honest negotiations to overcome the crisis.

MIGUEL VARGAS MALDONADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic and Council President for January, speaking in his national capacity, said there is an unwavering debt of gratitude his country harbours for Venezuela in a very unique way. For this reason, the Dominican Republic has tried to facilitate dialogue among different Venezuelan parties. However, the actions of the Government and opposition have led to a missed opportunity which could have led to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Talks must be pursued at all costs. A fresh round of elections must truly reflect the will of the people. For fair and transparent elections, there is a need for assistance from the international community. “There is no doubt that the situation in Venezuela has deteriorated and has reached a point of deep concern,” he stressed. The Venezuelan people are victims; their human rights are threatened. The international community has therefore been pulled into this drama. Elections must be open to all political parties and leaders.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that a major part of his German colleague’s statement was devoted to addressing Moscow. The use of preventive diplomacy is excellent, but “you have a very strange way of proposing to prevent this crisis by putting forward an absurd ultimatum”. He added: “You completely disregard the sovereignty of Venezuela, imposing on it decisions that you prefer and rejecting its people the right to resolve their affairs.” Germany’s delegate is calling the legitimate authorities of Venezuela to acknowledge defeat and transfer of power. “What you are doing is not prevention, but incitement,” he said, asking Germany’s delegate how he would feel if the Russian Federation brought the situation and protests in France to the Council. The Russian Federation is proposing to help Venezuela resolve its own affairs.

Mr. HEUSGEN (Germany) said that, unfortunately, his Russian colleague did not respond to anything regarding the serious violations of human rights. He mentioned the 22,000 French demonstrators, but not the 3.3 million Venezuelans who have fled their country.

JORGE ARREAZA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, thanking the United States Secretary of State for revealing that his allies lacked popular support within OAS, rejected that Government’s gross attempts at interference in the affairs of Caracas. “The United States is not behind the coup d’état, it is at the vanguard of the coup d’état,” he stressed. Displaying printouts of tweets by United States Vice-President Mike Pence on 22 January granting permission for such an intervention, he rejected the subsequent presidential self-proclamation by the leader of the National Assembly as illegal. Condemning the many unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela by the United States — as well as direct threats of force issued by President Donald Trump — he questioned why the international community has not addressed such threats. He went on to list some of Washington, D.C.’s numerous aggressions, armed interventions and support for coups in Latin America, stressing that those actions should render the United States subject to permanent scrutiny on the world stage.

“This coup d’état cannot be accepted,” he continued, noting that the evidence of United States interventionism is abundant in both social and traditional media. Displaying a copy of the Wall Street Journal, he cited media reports of secret meetings between the United States and officials of its various satellite Governments in Latin America. While one might expect such behaviour in that region, it is surprising that European countries have also become lackeys. Calling for respect for the Charter of the United Nations, he said countries across Latin America declared Venezuela’s elections fraudulent a full three months before they were held. While attempting to build a physical wall on its border with Mexico, the United States is also building an “ideological wall” and resurrecting Cold War strategies aimed at bringing misery to Latin America. The unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela have so far cost it $23 billion, he stressed, adding that his nation’s assets remain frozen in several European countries.

Reiterating Venezuela’s commitment to a region-led dialogue aimed at resolving the situation, he nevertheless voiced concern about lies proclaimed in today’s debate. Citing his country’s economic turmoil — caused by unilateral sanctions imposed on it — he outlined his Government’s steps to support the population. Venezuela awaits a visit by international officials, including United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. Meanwhile, those who sought to promote bloodshed in the country through an attempted coup d’état will continue to fail in their mission. Venezuela will find its own way forward without any interference, he stressed, noting that the Government has already met with Mr. Guaidó. The United States, which is withdrawing its forces from Syria, is now trying to begin a new war with Venezuela. “We’re not going to give them that satisfaction,” he stressed, also rejecting attempts by the European Union to impose deadlines on his country’s domestic affairs. “No Power […] can dictate to my country its destiny or its future,” he said.

ELLIOTT ABRAMS (United States) said that every single country that was attacked by Venezuela today is a democracy. “Today there is only one satellite present here and it is Venezuela,” he added. This is not about foreign intervention in Venezuela. Democracy never needs to be imposed. It is tyranny that needs to be imposed. This discussion is about the people of Venezuela and their right to choose their own future.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that in his country, unlike the United States, there are no satellites. Cuba and Venezuela are not the Russian Federation’s satellites. Such a terminology does not even exist in the Russian Federation’s foreign policy. In discussions in the Council, the Russian Federation respects the position of all countries. It respects that any member of the Council or the United Nations in general could have a position different from its own. However, there have been instances when the United States has pressured other countries to get them in lockstep.

Mr. ARREAZA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said it is difficult sometimes when spokespeople take the floor as they often deviate from the topic at hand. Insults have been thrown at Venezuela as being the home of drug traffickers and corrupt officials, he said, adding: Is there nothing else to do in the world? He said that Mr. Maduro’s Government is still willing to conduct dialogue with the Government of the United States. In that regard, it should be treated with the respect of a sovereign nation, as outlined in the Charter of the United Nations.

CARLOS HOLMES TRUJILLO GARCÍA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, welcomed today’s meeting, commending the process to restore constitutional order, which under Mr. Guaidó and the National Assembly and with vocal grass-roots support, has been developing since 23 January. Colombia requested today’s meeting to add its voice to the just calls of Venezuela’s people, and Mr. Guaidó, for resolute support for the legislative powers of the National Assembly. Colombia is acting in compliance as a member of OAS and the United Nations, and as a signatory to the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Such obligations imposed a duty to act in cases where there is an evident breach of democratic order, as in Venezuela. Colombia, with other democratic States in the hemisphere, and acting in the framework of the Lima Group, supports fostering conditions to allow Venezuelans to enjoy peace. A dictatorship has emerged as a threat to peace in the region. It is an affront to international law, as well as inter-American law and rights. Colombia, as Venezuela’s neighbour, is suffering the impacts of that threat. The dictatorship has seized the property of Colombian companies legitimately investing in Venezuela and given safe haven to terrorist groups, the consequences of which has triggered the exodus of 3 million people in a quest for peace and opportunity.

He said Colombia has welcomed more than 1 million migrants from Venezuela, despite its limited capacity and resources, and will continue to participate in finding regional and global responses to address this migration crisis. It is motivated in its desire to ensure that, despite that the doors being slammed shut by the dictatorship, aid reaches those in need, thanks to Mr. Guaidó. Underscoring the moral obligation to support efforts of those crying out for freedom, he said what destroys Venezuela will likewise destroy Colombia; what lifts Venezuela will do the same for Colombia. In sum, Colombia requests urgent international support for the process to end the usurpation of power; the holding of free, transparent elections, upheld by Mr. Guaidó; rejection of requests to delay action, which will only prolong suffering; aid delivery; respect for the life and well-being of Mr. Guaidó; support for all Venezuelans working to build a better future; and the call by several countries that have submitted a request to the International Criminal Court to investigate events in Venezuela. Also needed is support for measures to protect the assets taken by Venezuela’s dictatorship, and the holding of transparent, safe and secure elections in which the country’s people can choose the type of Government they wish to have.

PAUL OQUIST KELLEY (Nicaragua) reiterated his Government’s full solidarity for the legitimately elected President, Mr. Maduro. The situation in Venezuela does not represent a threat to international security, he added, strongly urging that the sovereign decisions of the country’s people be respected. The interest and insistence of the United States to include the subject of Venezuela in the agenda of the Security Council is another form of interventionist action into another nation’s internal affairs. Its clear objective is to impose a change of Government and replace the constitutional Government of President Maduro through a coup d’état.

These actions do not contribute to a political solution, which belongs to the Venezuelan people as the ones to exercise their right to self-determination, he said. What characterizes the situation in Venezuela are the brazen attempts to destroy prior achievements made in health, education, housing and reducing poverty. Nothing should hinder the peace zone of Latin America and the Caribbean and therefore any threat of military aggression is condemnable. Venezuela is defending non-interventionism and the multilateral order based on independence, sovereignty and the equality of States.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the Caribbean is the stage for threats that are incompatible with the region’s zone of peace, recalling that the 2014 proclamation signed at the second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) enshrined a duty to uphold the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, notably to refrain from interference in internal affairs, and respect for sovereignty and equal rights. The current United States Administration appears to have “dusted off the Monroe Doctrine”, and in a fresh extension of imperialism in the region, gone so far as to say that all options are on table. The region is like a lawn during a drought — a single spark could set off an uncontrollable fire that damages the interests of all, she said, calling it a “tinder box”. She rejected statements by the United States delegation made today, seeking to exploit the Council to illegitimately campaign against Mr. Maduro’s constitutional leadership. The main threat to the region is the bullying by the United States and its allies, she said, calling it a flagrant affront to the popular will of Venezuelans.

She voiced unwavering support to the Bolivarian revolution, the union of the Venezuelan people and their democratic Government. She condemned in the strongest terms, attempts, through a coup d’état, to install a lackey Government to United States interests. She supported Venezuela’s right to chart its own future. She decried unilateral coercive measures, calls for a military coup to topple Venezuela’s Government, warnings that the use of military might is an option, the 4 August attempt to assassinate Mr. Maduro, actions by a group of countries, the shameful role of OAS and attempts to apply a worthless policy of regime change, which has been frustrated, time and again, by the resistance of the Venezuelan people. She advocated respect for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, expressing Cuba’s unwavering support for the principles of sovereignty, non-use of force or the threat thereof, and non-interference in domestic affairs. History will judge those who push for a coup d’état, she cautioned.

GARETH BYNOE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said his county has been monitoring developments in Venezuela at the bilateral and multilateral levels and expressed deep concern over the unfolding events. Stressing his Government’s adherence to the principles of non-interference, non-intervention and sovereignty, along with respect for human rights and democracy, he emphasized the need for meaningful dialogue among all stakeholders. “We are undoubtedly living in an unpredictable era and must reject all attempts to aggravate dangerous situations or engender change of democratically elected leaders,” he said. The history of Latin America and the Caribbean is indelibly scarred by military interventions and imposition of dictator Governments. The need to triumph over its lingering remnants drives the countries in the hemisphere “to be viscerally abhorrent to any semblance of its re-emergence”. Constitutionally, Venezuela has an elected President in Mr. Maduro, but an unconscionable crusade against the legally elected President, orchestrated by OAS, aims to erect a parallel unelected Government. OAS has abdicated its role of arbiter. Venezuela is not a threat nor represents a danger to international peace and security. History teaches that rejection of dialogue is often the precursor to unilateralism and war, he said, an option that cannot be allowed in the region’s zone of peace.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada) firmly rejected Mr. Maduro’s illegitimate claim to power. The elections of May 2018 were fraudulent and therefore the Maduro regime has no authority to govern Venezuela, he added, reiterating support to Mr. Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela. Canada has faith that a durable solution to the crisis in Venezuela will be achieved through the leadership and courage of the Venezuelan people. Millions of Venezuela’s people lack access to food, health care and other critical services and supplies. The international community must stand in solidarity with the democratically elected National Assembly, with interim President Guaidó, and with the Venezuelan people in pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. For its part, Canada has taken concrete action such as imposing sanctions on 70 regime officials and referred the situation in Venezuela to the International Criminal Court. It is time for those who continue to provide political and material support to the illegitimate Maduro regime to consider how history will view their actions.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) expressed solidarity with the Government of Mr. Maduro and alarm that this session of the Council was called in the first place. He appealed to the members of the Council to recall the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of States. Attempts by the United States to manipulate the situation are only weakening the spirit of multilateralism and violate the will of the people of Venezuela. All sanctions imposed unilaterally are illegal. “If we are going to talk honestly about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, let’s talk about who is responsible for the sanctions,” he said. Those who seek to change the regime are only interested in gaining control over Venezuela’s oil reserves. Looking back on history, he asked: Which country has been better after the United States has interfered in its internal affairs? He called for dialogue and mediation, adding that, while political differences are natural, interpretation of international law is not.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, expressing regret over the breakdown in the rule of law and respect for human rights in Venezuela. The new presidential mandate of Mr. Maduro is the outcome of an illegitimate electoral process which lacked the participation of all political actors and the presence of independent international observers, falling short of the international standards essential for the conduct of a free, fair and democratic process. Recalling that Paraguay was the first to break off relations with Mr. Maduro on 10 January, he voiced support for efforts to bring about a dialogue between Mr. Maduro and the political opposition groups, in coordination with the Lima Group and OAS.

Recalling that Paraguay was among six countries that last September requested the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the possible commission of crimes against humanity in Venezuela, he reiterated full support for the National Assembly legitimately elected in 2015, and recognition of Mr. Guaidó as interim President, in line with Venezuela’s constitutional provisions. He trusted that Mr. Guaidó will begin the process of democratization in line with the Constitution and based on the necessary international standards that are essential to a democratic process and called for new elections. Mr. Maduro must refrain from any violence, he said, expressing unconditional solidarity with long-suffering Venezuelans and stressing that Paraguay will continue working for the full restoration of the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights in Venezuela.

KITTY SWEEB (Suriname) said troubling developments in Venezuela have negatively affected the country’s stability, possibly steering the wider region away from the ideals of a zone of peace. Suriname reiterates its strong commitment to international law, as well as to its own Constitution. Striving for peaceful coexistence and resorting to dialogue in any conflict, irrespective of its nature — whether nationally or internationally — Suriname also upholds the principles of non-interference, non-intervention and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Rejecting armed aggression, any form of political or economic pressure and any interference in domestic affairs, she said Suriname cannot support any Government that is not elected through democratic processes and procedures, in line with the respective constitutions. She reiterated Suriname’s recognition of Mr. Maduro as the democratically elected President of Venezuela, calling for genuine dialogue to maintain the region as a zone of peace.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said his country, along with the “the better part” of the international community, did not recognize the legitimacy of Mr. Maduro, as his election fell short of standards certified as free and democratic. He cited an entry ban on senior regime officials and the suspension of visa exemptions for diplomatic passports among the steps Argentina had taken, stressing that Mr. Guaidó had assumed the functions of interim President, in line with Venezuela’s Constitution, against the backdrop of mass demonstrations on 23 January with the popular call for democracy and freedom. Argentina recognized Mr. Guaidó as the leader of Venezuela. On 24 January, at Argentina’s request, the OAS Permanent Council held an extraordinary session to consider the unfolding events, with 16 countries signing a declaration recognizing the legitimacy of the National Assembly and Mr. Guaidó as the interim President.

Recalling that others had proposed initiatives for dialogue, and that Argentina will always favour the path of dialogue, he stressed that it requires the good faith of all involved. The Santo Domingo process failed due to a lack of willingness to truly engage. He warned against the risk that dialogue proposals could be manipulated by the Maduro regime for reasons of “foot dragging”. States must facilitate a peaceful transition to free, transparent and democratic elections, as that is the only way handle the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, he said, reiterating that the Lima Group called on the Secretary-General and the United Nations to respond to the frequent rights violations. “This crisis is regional and global in nature,” he insisted, as 3 million migrants and refugees have been forced to flee. He rejected the repressive actions of the Maduro regime and called on International Criminal Court to begin an investigation into the alleged commission of crimes in Venezuela. For its part, the Council must shore up its role in defence of international peace and security. It cannot “shrug its shoulders” and turn away from today’s situation, given its dramatic repercussions for Venezuelans and the region, he declared.

JUAN JOSÉ IGNACIO GÓMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) reiterated concern over the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and regret over the loss of life in recent events. He supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to ensure that all actors involved reduce tensions and make all efforts to de-escalate the situation. There are avenues for dialogue and reconciliation that placed human rights at the centre, which should be exhausted. He demanded a search for a peaceful democratic solution to the complex situation, explaining that Venezuelans should be able to choose their future direction without interference. Mexico trusts that there is a negotiated solution based on dialogue among all involved, including the options envisioned in the Charter’s Chapter VI. In that context, Mexico and Uruguay have proposed a new inclusive, credible process of negotiation, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights. He expressed Mexico’s readiness to work together for the benefit of benefit of Venezuelans.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) reaffirmed the right to democracy that all countries have, noting the statement by the National Assembly of Venezuela declaring a change of office. He said it is critical to release all political prisoners, adding that Ecuador, as a neighbouring country, has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans. He called for free and transparent elections to be held as soon as possible. As for the comments regarding the death of a Venezuelan in Ecuador, he assured that hundreds of thousands have been welcomed in his country. A democratic solution to the Venezuela crisis will only be possible through dialogue and cannot be imposed through a regime of terror.

H. ELIZABETH THOMPSON (Barbados), on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), convened on 24 January, expressed grave concern about the plight of Venezuela’s people and increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments, which could lead to further violence, breakdown of law and order, and suffering. Reaffirming the guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in State affairs, sovereignty, the rule of law and respect for human rights and democracy, CARICOM reiterated that the long-standing political crisis can only be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy, and in that context, it offered their good offices to all parties. Emphasizing the importance of the Caribbean remaining a zone of peace, the Community called on external forces to refrain from destabilizing actions and underscored the need to “step back from the brink”. CARICOM called on all actors — internal and external — to avoid actions that would escalate an already explosive situation which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the region.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said the rule of law must prevail, adding that a democratic culture is built day by day. Venezuelans are suffering from an unacceptable degradation of quality of life. The Government of Chile does not recognize the elections held in 2018. The Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela has also called the presidency of Mr. Maduro illegitimate. Chile, along with countries in the region, recognized and publicly expressed support to the interim presidency of Mr. Guaidó. He condemned all acts of violence taking place in Venezuela and urged peace. Any solution to the problem in Venezuela must include decisive steps towards the restoration of democratic processes.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said that the increasing deterioration of the political, economic and social situation in Venezuela is not new and has been a concern of his country’s Government for years. Venezuela is the product of a dictatorship that sacrificed its people to remain in power. Many Venezuelans fleeing their country are welcomed with open arms in Brazil and other countries in the region. “But I am sure they would have preferred to stay in their homes, with their families, in their country,” he added.

The Maduro regime produced an economic crisis of unprecedented dimensions, which challenges methods of evaluation and comparison, he continued. The Venezuelan people have been held under a regime with links to organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist organizations. “And let us not be naïve. Those who have held power in the country are comfortable where they are,” he added. Brazil considers the Venezuelan electoral process held in May completely illegitimate. Brazil is in favour of conducting dialogue with the acting President, Mr. Guaidó, and remains firmly opposed to “any kind of dialogue in any format” with Mr. Maduro. For Mr. Maduro, dialogue is just another opportunity to buy time and continue his campaign of oppression and destruction.

ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay), recalling that the situation in Venezuela is not on the Council’s agenda, said the 15-member organ is not the most appropriate body to examine it. He reiterated the pertinence of the Charter’s Chapter VIII, on regional agreements, noting that members of the United Nations should make every effort to achieve the pacific settlement of local disputes through those arrangements before referring them to the Council. Uruguay had closely followed the evolution of events in Venezuela. The worst possible solution would be to “double down” in leaving Venezuelans isolated on the international stage. Therefore, Uruguay, along with Mexico, appealed to all parties involved, within and outside the country, and called on them to reduce tensions and to ward off violence. Both countries had urged all stakeholders to find a peaceful solution.

Uruguay and Mexico proposed a new round of inclusive, credible negotiations that respect the rule of law and human rights, he said, reiterating their support to work jointly for the well-being and peace of Venezuelans. There will be no peace or stability absent a political agreement among the stakeholders reached through a dialogue that fully included the Government, the entire political spectrum and all of civil society. “Dialogue is not a series of monologues,” he said, but rather involves listening and working to understand. He urged parties to pursue that course of action, guided by the interests of Venezuelans themselves. Describing the attitude of Latin American countries, he said: “We have not rejected the migrants at the border.” Nor are they building walls. Uruguay champions international law, and irrespective of the current situation, it will never countenance armed intervention into any country in the region.

RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) said his Government does not recognize the legitimacy of the Government that assumed its functions on 10 January. It favours transition measures with a view towards holding elections. Costa Rica will continue to monitor developments in Venezuela to ensure that the serious human rights violations end, and that democracy and rule of law are re-established as soon as possible.

LOREEN RUTH BANNIS-ROBERTS (Dominica), voicing support for the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of any sovereign State, recalled that Venezuela held elections in 2018 in accordance with its Constitution, duly electing President Maduro. Dominica fully respects the will of Venezuela’s people and the outcome of that election, he said, also voicing concern about expressions of support for a transitional Government and declarations of the illegitimacy of the Maduro Administration. “Recognition of a self-declared Government outside of the electoral process is a clear repudiation of the will of the people,” he stressed, adding: “There cannot be a parallel Government in Venezuela.” That recognition will only open the door to confusion and civil strife, he warned.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said it is regrettable when any country in the Latin America and the Caribbean region is a topic of discussion in the Security Council. This is particularly concerning when members of the General Assembly has had no chance to vote on whether or not to refer the matter to the Council. It should be up to the internal parties of any country to resolve their own national matters. He condemned the use of all force, stressing that regional stability is vital to Latin America and its people. Parties in Venezuela must work together to find a peaceful solution to their internal disputes.

MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras) said 3 million people have left Venezuela since 2015, while those remaining are at risk amid the escalating conflict. Concerning the principle of non-interference, the Inter-American Democratic Charter created mechanisms in the event that a democratic institutional process is disrupted. For this purpose, the OAS Permanent Council adopted a resolution to not recognize the legitimacy of Mr. Maduro, as of 10 January, and called for a new electoral process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people. As mandated by Venezuela’s Constitution, Mr. Guaidó, as President of the National Assembly, assumed the position of interim President, garnering recognition of regional States, the Lima Group and members of the international community, trusting that Venezuela can soon start credible elections. In restoration of constitutional order, serious human rights violations have been reported. Notwithstanding the Charter’s Chapter VIII, the Council has the responsibility to respond to international peace and security threats. As all peoples in the region are impacted by the crisis in Venezuela, she requested the Council to urgently attend to the matter. To ensure prosperity for future generations, the culture of denying issues that require United Nations attention must indeed shift towards full respect for human rights.

WALTON ALFONSO WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), drawing attention to the seriousness of events in Venezuela, said: “We do not, and will not, stand to see the promise of the zone of peace in our region break.” The world is littered with examples of external interference resulting in countries remaining in a state of uncertainty. The Charter of the United Nations is clear on the promotion of international peace and respect for sovereignty — States should refrain from threats or use of force, as well as unilateral declarations of support for one party over another. Uninvited influence in Venezuela’s domestic affairs does nothing but undermine peacebuilding processes that require urgent attention. He rejected any external force interfering in Venezuela’s internal matters, as well as attempts by any political unit within the country to take power in a manner other than by the constitutional process. Noting that the zone of peace — the entire Caribbean region — promoted a brotherhood and sisterhood, he said his Government, along with others in the region, are ready to facilitate dialogue and a peace process that will return the Government in Venezuela.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said her country was committed to the peaceful and democratic solution to this crisis. Panama has explicitly recognized the President of the National Assembly as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela. Panama also rejects any acts of violence and repression. She expressed regret for the loss of life, condemning all acts of violence no matter by whom. The international community has witnessed the massive and continued exodus of Venezuelans. Official reports has called this the largest migration in Latin America is recent history, she added.

Ms. RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) said she categorically rejects the lies uttered by Mr. Pompeo today, also recalling that it was the United States, not Cuba, that lay behind the coup d’état in Venezuela in 2005. She urged the delegate of the United States to clarify whether or not his Government is attempting to destabilize and incite tensions in Venezuela. It is the people of Venezuela who pay the highest price for such tactics. Cuba does not favour certain countries. It offers the same solidarity to all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Even the United Nations recognizes Cuba’s exceptional record in providing health care and other assistance to developing countries worldwide.

“There were deliberate lies uttered today by the [United States] Secretary of State,” she continued, adding that Venezuela will never be a satellite of any country. It is the United States, not Cuba, which set up dictatorships all over Latin America. It is the United States that has sought to overthrow legitimate Governments and is now seeking to do the same. “Go back to your history books Secretary Pompeo,” she said, warning against any attempt to spread the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mr. ARREAZA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, recalled that, during the 2018 General Assembly, the United States President reiterated the Monroe Doctrine, which considers Latin America the backyard of the United States, in outlining his country’s security policy. “If this is something the United Nations cannot condemn, then I don’t understand what can be condemned in this institution,” he asserted. Noting that Venezuela has two satellites, one for telecommunications and the other for ground observation, which it launched in partnership with China, he expressed gratitude for the commitment of personnel to ensure that Venezuelans continue to live normally at a time when they lack doctors — a problem which Cuba helped to resolve.

He recalled the failed attempt in August 2018 to assassinate Mr. Maduro, in which people from Colombia and Miami took part. The United States and Colombia should extradite those attempting such activities. Concerning that request, Caracas has received no response from those countries and the situation was never discussed at the United Nations. To Colombia’s delegate, he said, “as much as you insult us” and do not wish to communicate, the Bolivarian revolution of Mr. Maduro is open to Colombians to help them peacefully settle the last armed conflict in the region, linked to the drug trade. “We’re ready to help Colombia achieve lasting peace,” he said.

As for the United States, he said that Government has more than 800 military bases around the world; 70 in Latin America alone. Venezuela’s Constitution prevents it from having such bases. Noting that the United States cut off military cooperation with Venezuela years ago, he said the Russian Federation engages in military cooperation with his country, stressing: “We have a right to protect our people.” The electoral authorities that organized the National Assembly polls of 2015 are the same such authorities today, with greater guarantees. The opposition could not agree on a candidate, and further pressured candidates not to participate. The legal election led to a popular outcome that “we cannot simply disregard”. Overturning it would overrule the wish of 9 million voters. Acknowledging the migration issue, he nonetheless asked: “Who said there are refugees?”

Characterizing the recognition of Governments that are not constitutionally validated as “a slippery slope”, he encouraged Europe to use its eight-day ultimatum to consider whether it can support a dialogue on equal footing. On the issue of observers, he said 300 had participated and he requested a report proving that the elections were not honest or fair. “Let’s be rigorous,” he said. Ecuador, meanwhile, had denied Venezuela overflights for migrants who had taken refuge in its embassy. Finally, overflight rights were granted this morning and the migrants will be returning. Stressing that Venezuela will defend its sovereignty, and that workers, trade unions, farmers, local councils and businessmen alike all favour peace, he said Venezuela will not allow any country to violate its sovereignty and give Mr. Trump a pretext to start a war.

Mr. TRUJILLO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, referring to his country’s domestic situation, thanked the Secretary-General for his report on the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People's Army (FARC) that had received the Council’s unanimous support. He reiterated Colombia’s determination to live up to its responsibility to counter terrorism, citing resolution 1373 (2001) in that context.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) recalled how earlier Mr. Pompeo said that the position of the United States is shared by most of the world, but the speakers today were almost equally divided on the matter. Barbados, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, touched on the importance of respecting international principles such as non-interference in the internal affairs of States. That confirms that the world does not contain as much unity for Mr. Pompeo’s position as he thinks. “Then what was the point of having today’s meeting,” he said, warning against escalating tensions in Venezuela. Set aside these ridiculous ultimatums, he urged. Give Venezuelans a chance to solve their own problems but do not try to trip them up in their attempts.

For information media. Not an official record.