US envoy urges global action on worsening Venezuela crisis

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2017 4:46 PM
US envoy urges global action on worsening Venezuela crisis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday urged the international community to take action to deal with the worsening crisis in Venezuela where she said "people are starving while their government tramples their democracy.

Haley said in a statement that the United States applauds the continuing efforts of countries that are resolved "to maintaining our hemisphere's commitment to democracy" — even if the U.N. Human Rights Council and the Organization of American States "are blocked from doing so."

She said "the tragic situation in Venezuela calls out for action."

Venezuela's U.N. Mission said it "categorically rejects" Haley's call for action by the international community.

In response to Haley's contention that action has been blocked in the OAS and Human Rights Council, the mission sent a statement signed by 57 countries supporting Venezuela's government and opposing any interference in the country's internal affairs.

"We condemn any action that disrupts the peace, tranquility and democratic stability, undermining democratic institutions of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and threatens its sovereignty," said the statement, whose signatories include Russia, China, India, South Africa, Egypt and Cuba.

Nearly three months of political unrest were set off by the attempt by President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government to nullify the opposition-controlled congress in late March. But demonstrations have escalated into a vehicle for airing grievances against the government for triple-digit inflation, food shortages, a rise in crime and Maduro's attempt to rewrite the constitution.

The opposition blames the bloodshed on state security forces using excessive force and on groups of armed, pro-government civilians known as "colectivos." Maduro says far-right extremists are working with criminal gangs to foment the violence.

The United States organized the first-ever U.N. Security Council consultations on Venezuela on May 17 to spotlight the worsening crisis. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Thursday it has no immediate plans for additional U.N. action.

Haley said at that time that the U.S. intention to spotlight the Venezuelan crisis wasn't to be intrusive or heavy-handed, but to support regional efforts to find a political solution and "show respect for the Venezuelan people" who want free and fair elections, the release of political prisoners, and action to address the worsening humanitarian situation.

She said the Trump administration wants to prevent another conflict like Syria, North Korea or South Sudan.

The statement from the 57 countries welcomed "commendable efforts" to promote dialogue and peace by the 12-member Union of South American Nations and by former presidents of Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic and a special envoy of the Holy See. The signatories also supported other Latin American and Caribbean efforts to promote dialogue.