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UN rejects Venezuela’s Guaido, will only cooperate with recognized government of Maduro

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro shaking hands during their meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, the US, on September 27, 2018. (By Reuters)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has rejected an aid request by Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido, stressing that the body only cooperates with the country’s recognized government led by President Nicolas Maduro.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for Guterres, conveyed the secretary general’s reply to the aid request in a public press briefing on Thursday.

“The United Nations is ready to increase its activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development. However, for this, the United Nations needs the consent and the cooperation of the Government,” said Dujarric.

Last week, Guaido published a copy of a letter sent to Guterres requesting UN humanitarian action in Venezuela.

The letter came shortly after Guaido’s self-proclamation as “interim president” of Venezuela, rejecting the presidency of Maduro, who was sworn in earlier after winning an election boycotted by the opposition.

The move by Guaido sparked a political crisis in the country, especially after it was recognized by the United States, which confiscated Venezuelan state assets in America, including a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company, to channel them to Guaido.

There has also been speculation that the US may be preparing for a military invasion of Venezuela in support of Guaido.

'All options on the table'

On Friday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton — who triggered that speculation in the first place — denied any imminent plans for a US military intervention in Venezuela but declined to rule out the military option altogether. 

“The president said all options are on the table,” Bolton said, referring to an earlier remark by US President Donald Trump.

US Vice President Mike Pence echoed Bolton’s remarks, saying that Maduro had to step down.

Addressing a gathering of pro-opposition Venezuelans in Miami, Pence said “all options are on the table,” and warned Maduro “not to test the resolve of the United States”.

“This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action," he added.

Venezuela would be another Vietnam for America: Maduro

In a video published on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Maduro urged the American people to show solidarity with Venezuela and stop their government from getting entangled in another “Vietnam” by invading Venezuela.

“I am appealing to your conscience; I am appealing to your solidarity... if the United States intends to intervene, it will have a Vietnam worse that it can imagine. Let’s not allow violence,” the Venezuelan president said.

Maduro also said that a “global campaign” involving the dissemination of “fake manipulated images” had been launched against his country to justify foreign intervention, calling on Americans not to believe what “media outlets in the United States say.”

“Those who run the empire in the United States want to get their hands on our oil just like they did in Iraq and Libya,” he said.

Italy does not recognize Guaido

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Manlio Di Stefano made similar remarks on Thursday, warning that the “mistake” that happened in Libya shouldn’t be repeated in Venezuela.

“We must prevent this from happening in Venezuela,” Di Stefano said.

He added that Italy “does not recognize” Guaido as interim president.

Also on Thursday, UN Special Rapporteur on Venezuela Idriss Jazairy, who reports to the Human Rights Council, slammed new US sanctions targeting the Latin American country to weaken and end Maduro’s rule.

“I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela,” said Jazairy, adding that such “coercion” by outside powers “is in violation of all norms of international law.”

“Precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.

Maduro has said he is ready to sit at the negotiating table with the opposition to end the political crisis in the country.

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