NEW YORK, New York – There has been a stand-off at the United Nations Security Council over Venezuela, where participating countries have divided into two camps.
One, headed by the U.S. and including the U.S., Germany, Poland, Peru, the UK, France, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, and Kuwait wants the holding of new elections and a recognition of self-proclaimed interim President Guaido.
The second, headed by Russia and comprising Russia, China, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea want a dialogue between the government and the opposition, in line with the Montevideo mechanism – a forum for talks, launched by Mexico and Uruguay earlier this February.
Indonesia and Cote d’Ivoire have sat on the fence, supporting neither of the gtwo camps.
Thursday night’s meeting was the second this week on Venezuela.
The U.S. resolution which proposed new elections was vetoed.
The Russian resolution wanting dialoge did not muster enough votes, so the situation remains dead-locked.
While the meeting was the second one this week, it was in fact the third meeting the security council has held seeking solutions to Venezuela’s “protracted crisis” since tensions started escalating in January, when Juan Guaido, head of the country’s National Assembly, challenged the legitimacy of the sitting President Nicolás Maduro, who has been in power since 2013 and was sworn in again for a second term, on 10 January.
The 15 members of the Council have been divided between those who are firmly supporting Mr. Maduro arguing that he is the legitimate elected president and those who support Mr. Guaido’s claim, backed by calls for a fresh round of voting.
“The situation in Venezuela demands our action now,” the United States Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, told the Council on Thursday night. “The time for a peaceful transition to democracy is now…We look forward to genuine free and fair elections and to a Government that reflects the will and aspirations of the Venezuelan people.”
Opposition to the U.S. resolution played out with the second resolution from the Russian group.
“We drafted an alternative draft resolution, the aim of which is not to incite political intrigues and regime change but rather to genuinely help the Venezuelan people in efforts to normalize the situation in the country,” Russian Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia said Thursday night.
On Tuesday, the UN’s political and peacebuilding chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, briefed the Security Council, describing the “grim reality” facing the country.
As tensions continue to escalate, the UN humanitarian coordination office has been documenting the humanitarian crisis in the country: infant mortality has increased by more than 50% since 2017; four in five hospitals lack the necessary medicines and staff to be operational. To date, the UN refugee and migration agencies (UNHCR and IOM, respectively), estimate that the number of Venezuelans to have fled their country stands at 3.4 million.
Following recent violence by government forces during demonstrations at border crossings with Brazil and Colombia and other parts of the country, the UN human rights office denounced excessive use of force which led to the death of several civilians.