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Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela

Originally published: Internationalist 360 (February 26, 2019)

Mr. President,

At the outset let me thank Mm. Rosemary DiCarlo and welcome Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza.

I could have agreed with my German colleague who said that the topic of today’s meeting should be “Threats to International Peace and Security”–threats to Venezuela posed be a whole range of states. Still I think the topic should be different. Today we should discuss the situation around Venezuela rather than the situation in this country.

Today we are present at another episode of a show that the U.S. has been performing for a month by now with a zeal worthy of a better cause.

Here is a short summary, for those of you who did not follow the whole story. In a sovereign Latin American country there appeared an imposter, who proclaimed himself a legitimate president of the nation and right on the spot was recognized as such by the U.S. The European countries and a number of Latin American satellites, including some of Venezuela’s neighbors, hesitated a little and also recognized this personality as president. As for the legitimate leader N.Maduro, this group of countries believes his victory at the elections held last spring was not honest, because the opposition boycotted the vote. The fact that it was Washington who incited the opposition leaders to withdraw, is not advertised. I think those who speak about constitutional process and Guaido’s legitimate authority on the basis of Venezuelan constitution, understand that they sound hypocritical, void in legal terms and simply absurd. What we see is the abuse of constitutional law. Are you not ashamed to say so? Do you not see that everyone understands what stands behind? Not a single self-respecting lawyer or court would support this mockery of law per se? At least read the conclusions of the German Bundestag legal service. They say everything about it.

At the same time there is groan and moan about the devastating economic situation in Venezuela, starving people, skyrocketing prices, etc. One is being persuaded that Venezuela should be saved at any cost for the sake of its own people. The fact that since 2013 Venezuela has been under American sanctions that largely caused the current economic situation is hushed up. Not a word is uttered about the overall damage to the economy of the country caused by the sanctions, which accounts for $345 bln.

Now when the situation around Venezuela has been brought to the boiling point, Washington proclaims N.Maduro to be the root of all Venezuela’s evils and organizes an operation entitled “humanitarian aid delivery”. It culminated on February 23, when in Colombian Cúcuta some uninspected and uninvited American cargo was prepared. Later there were attempts to deliver this cargo to Venezuela under a human shield made up of the civil population. Legitimate Venezuelan authorities had to perform their duty to protect the national border. They mobilized security forces that had only one task–to ensure integrity of the state border.

There is video footage that clearly shows that people coming from the Colombian territory behaved aggressively and provoked the Venezuelan military and police officers, who were on duty.

It was the moment when first injuries occurred–people in uniform broke through from the Venezuelan side and rammed a barrier at the Colombian side with a vehicle. This crazy act was captured on video and shared via social media. This footage leaves little doubt that some people must have been injured and, possibly, killed. Media instantly raised alarm regarding the victims of the blood-stained regime. To consciously ram the crowd–in any other point of the globe this would be considered an act of terror; however in Cúcuta this is the heroism of defectors who defy the authorities. J.Guaido approvingly tapps “heroes” on the shoulder.

The so called “humanitarians” at the Colombian side quickly resort to violence–the protectors of Venezuelan state border get pelted with stones and “Molotov cocktails”. Such a scenario does not look like a humanitarian aid delivery, does it? By the way, later the protesters themselves set one of the trucks on fire using a “Molotov cocktail”. Video footage that went viral around the globe clearly shows how a demonstrator at the Colombian side throws (by accident or on purpose) a burning bottle at a truck that never crossed the bridge.

By all indications, on February 23 we witnessed an attempted illegal crossing of a state border in order to deliver the unknown cargo. Distinguished colleagues, which of your countries would act differently in a similar situation? Here we have a country that intends to build a giant wall along its national border in order to prevent such illegal crossings. We cannot but recall the year 1986 when “humanitarian aid for Nicaragua” turned out to be a shipment of weapons for “Contras”. When we recall this episode today, we cannot escape a déjà vu.

Let us call things by their proper names: this is not humanitarian aid. If the U.S. had really wanted to help the people of Venezuela, they would have acted via UN agencies accredited in the country, as other states successfully do.

For example, in the previous week we delivered 7.5 tons of medical cargo to Caracas. We did it through the World Health Organization and encountered no obstacle. Besides, the authorities of Venezuela stand ready to accept humanitarian technical assistance that the country needs. In order to walk this way, just give Caracas opportunity to pay for food and medicine deliveries.

However, the U.S. and their allies do not want to act by legal means. They have a different goal. It can hardly be described as humanitarian. What happened on Saturday looked more like what is called “force feeding” here, in the United States. For those who do not know what it is, I will explain: it is a type of torture. Apparently, the American authorities have mastered this technique in Guantanamo and decided to “force feed” an entire country.

If you think the U.S. and their allies had the right to do so, open UNGA resolution 46/182. It laid down the legal basis of international humanitarian cooperation. It clearly states: when carrying out humanitarian activities, I quote, “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Then it elaborates: “the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination of humanitarian assistance” and “humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country”. Was there such an appeal? No, there was not.

At this point, I would like to thank colleagues from the UN agencies and major humanitarian organizations for their refusal to support this political provocation.

We demand that violations of UNGA resolution should be stopped and the state borders, sovereignty and national integrity of Venezuela should be respected according to the UN Charter.

Instead of hypocritically attempting to deliver “assistance” worth $20 mln, unblock the accounts of Venezuelan state companies in American banks worth $11bln, that the government allocated to buy medicines, food and essential goods. What will you say about the PDVSA assets worth $7 bln? What about Venezuelan gold assets in the UK worth $1.2 bln? Washington and London have recently robbed the people of Venezuela of $30 bln worth of oil and banking assets.

Let us call things by their real name. Right in front of us, a sovereign country is being brazenly robbed and pushed towards beggary. This is done in order to change the unwanted regime within the concepts of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” that have not been recognized by the international law. You used to ask, why Russia was against such “noble” concepts. Well, here is the answer. Are similar cases in the history of Latin America alone not enough? I would like to cite an American historian Harry Stout: “In the course of its history, the U.S. participated in 280 foreign interventions in every corner of the world.” And then, I quote, “America has faith in the institute of war as in a divine instrument and sacred mandate, applicable anywhere in the world”.

I now address the countries who support self-proclaimed president J.Guaido: are you naïve enough to think you are immune to something of the sort? Have you not heard claims of U.S. leaders that Cuba and Nicaragua will be the next? Do you think they will not come for you? However, this is a warning not only for them. This is a warning for everyone who is not going to obey Washington’s rules. Those who support Washington in this are accomplices in the violations of the UN Charter and international law, or even–God forbid–in an armed intervention, which you resolutely condemn in your rhetoric.

We cannot understand why Colombia, which is adjacent to Venezuela, instead of resolving its numerous internal problems related to the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement, decided to take part in this venture against its neighbor. This cannot but cause regret, because Colombia itself only recently managed to terminate a lasting civil war, from which it will be recovering for a long time without any guarantees of sustainable peace. By the way, in hard times for Colombia, Venezuela opened its borders for more than 5 mln refugees, many of them still live in this country.

We would like to warn against any reckless steps to implement military scenario in Venezuela, about which we come to hear more and more often. They might entail the most severe and unpredictable consequences for the region and the entire world. We call upon all the countries in the region, regardless of their political views, to firmly support the UN Charter, reject the use of force and gross interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.

We repeatedly reiterate: to solve Venezuelan problems is the absolute right, competence, responsibility and prerogative of Venezuelans themselves. They should use this right without any external interference. The international and, in the first place, regional cooperation should help develop a formula that would put an end to the turmoil inside the country, given that its sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected. Therefore, we welcome the goals articulated by the members of “Montevideo mechanism”: Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, CARICOM states. From our part, we stand ready to assist in search for understanding between all the constructive and patriotic forces in Venezuela. All the more, the Venezuelan authorities call for and insist on an internal Venezuelan dialogue.

President of the National Assembly J.Guaidó instead of discussing opportunities for dialogue and national reconciliation urges the states to keep the military scenario ready. This can hardly be called responsible behavior of a politician, who cares about his country and its people.

Mr. President,

The humanitarian show, performed by Washington on February 23, unveiled those who usually stand behind the scene. Now they have moved to center-stage. Now it is obvious, that the goal of Washington has not been and is not to solve the problems of Venezuela and take care of its people, but to change the regime, including threats to do this by means of a military intervention. The authors disregard the fact that this runs counter to the UN Charter, international law and civilized practices. Lack of respect for these fundamental principles of inter-state communication has become normal for the U.S., where they simply pay no attention to this.

In conclusion, I suggest doing an experiment. On February 21, the American delegation proposed to issue elements for the press regarding the developments in Haiti. All the members of the Council unanimously supported this. Let me read it out for you.

  •  Members of the Council expressed concern about violent demonstrations and death of innocent civilians, and urged all citizens to express themselves peacefully.
  •  Members of the Council reaffirmed their commitment to working with the people and government of Haiti toward a more secure and prosperous future.
  •  Members of the Security Council underscored that it is important for all actors to demonstrate a willingness to engage in good faith in efforts to address Haiti political and socio-economic issues.

Now let me ask. Will our American colleagues be ready to adopt a similar statement of UNSC President regarding Venezuela? You can hardly fail to notice that the situation is almost identical. The difference is that in case with Haiti the U.S. sided with the legal authorities. At least so far. For some reason I am sure I know the answer in advance, however I would still prefer to hear it from the U.S. colleagues. We will distribute the draft statement among the Council members.

Thank you.

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia
Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

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