United Nations: The UN Security Council is set to consider conflicting resolutions on the situation in Venezuela from the United States and Russia, diplomatic sources said here. The US recognizes Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela`s opposition-controlled National Assembly, as the oil-rich nation`s acting president, while Russia supports incumbent head of state Nicolas Maduro, agencies reported on Wednesday.
Both texts have been circulated among the 15 members and the council is likely to take up the competing resolutions in a single session on Thursday, the sources said. The US draft, seen by EFE, calls for the start of a peaceful political process in Venezuela that leads to "free, fair and credible presidential elections" and urges UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to employ his "good offices" toward that end.
Washington regards the May 2018 ballot that brought Maduro second term to be illegitimate. The document likewise insists on the need to avoid a worsening of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and demands that the Maduro government allow the entry of US aid stockpiled in neighboring Brazil and Colombia.
Russia`s draft warns against the use of force against the Maduro administration and emphasizes the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in countries` domestic affairs. The US is in the vanguard of the roughly 50 countries, including the major European powers except Italy, that have recognized Guaido since he proclaimed himself interim president on Jan. 23.
Russia, a major ally of Venezuela, has stood by Maduro and denounced what Moscow describes as an attempt to impose regime change on the South American nation. To pass the Security Council, a resolution must secure nine votes, and the US draft appears capable of meeting that threshold.
But each of the five Permanent Members - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - has the power to veto a resolution and Moscow is sure to block Washington`s text. Tuesday`s emergency Security Council session on Venezuela, requested by Washington, featured a sharp exchange between a US senior official and the Venezuelan foreign minister.
"We call on the members of the Security Council to join us in meeting the growing needs in Venezuela and the region. We call on member states to consider what resources and tools they have to contribute to Venezuelan democracy and to pressure the illegitimate Maduro regime to peacefully step down," the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said.
He said that the world should back Guaido and "address the destabilizing results of Maduro`s corrupt, fraudulent and incompetent reign, which just this weekend brought instability and violence" to the borders of Brazil and Colombia. Abrams was referring to clashes that occurred Saturday as Guaido supporters tried to force their way into Venezuela with US-donated aid rejected by Maduro as a stalking horse for military invention.
Four people died on the Brazilian border and more than 200 others were injured in disturbances on the boundary with Colombia. In his remarks, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza asked the Security Council to pass a resolution rejecting "the threat and the use of force" against his country.
Citing what he described as US preparations for war in Venezuela, he urged the council to "exclude that option completely," after Abrams reiterated Washington`s "all options are on the table" position. The foreign minister said that the violence last weekend on the Colombian border was initiated by Guaido supporters who accompanied the trucks loaded with aid, emphasizing that most of the wounded were members of the Venezuelan security forces.
"That was the last chapter in the coup on Saturday," he said, before directly addressing Abrams in English: "Read my lips - it failed. Now is the time for us to return to sanity."