Russia and China on Thursday vetoed the US resolution in the UN Security Council on addressing the crisis in Venezuela, while a rival draft put forward by Russia also failed to win enough votes. The failure to take action on the two drafts manifested the divisions among world powers over how to proceed in Venezuela, mired in its political standoff deepened by a severe economic meltdown.
Security Council Resolutions must garner nine votes to be adopted, with no vetoes from the five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The US text called for new presidential elections in Venezuela and uninterrupted deliveries of humanitarian aid; this won the required nine votes at the 15-member council, but Moscow and Beijing joined forces to block it. France, Germany and Britain backed the US- proposed measure. South Africa voted no; Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast abstained.
Russia then countered with its own draft resolution, asking for settlement "through peaceful means" and insisting that all humanitarian aid be agreed by President Nicolas Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.
After the double vetoes, US special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams crowed at Russia and China, lamenting that countries "continue to shield Maduro and his cronies and prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people," and expressing his personal satisfaction that "a clear majority of the council" had supported the US stance. "By voting against this resolution some members of this council continue to shield Maduro and his cronies and prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people. This man-made crisis has extended well beyond Venezuela's borders and threatens to destabilize the region," Abrams told the council.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia replied that Washington was staging an "illegal theater of the absurd" by seeking to install opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president. "We are seriously concerned about the fact that today's meeting may be exploited as a step for preparations of a real, not humanitarian, intervention ... as a result of the alleged inability of the Security Council to resolve the situation in Venezuela," he stated after the vote on the US draft resolution.
"The Venezuelan affairs should be decided by the Venezuelan people," China's Deputy UN Ambassador Wu Haitao said.
Speaking for the US, Abrams promised new sanctions against top members of Venezuela's government, requesting allies to freeze the assets of state-owned PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela SA).
Despite the deadly clashes at the border over the past weekend, the Trump administration is running into increasing resistance. For example, Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said on Wednesday that while it was clear Maduro had "no intention of negotiating", Spain was opposed to any foreign military intervention in the economically-strapped country. He "does not want sincere negotiations," said Spain's socialist leader, who earlier this month recognized Guaidó as interim leader of Venezuela after Maduro rejected pressure to call a snap general election. Sanchez, however, strongly rejected any foreign military intervention to topple Maduro, which the US has touted as a possibility. Sanchez stated: "We express our rejection of any non-peaceful solution, and particularly any foreign military intervention in Venezuela. There are some mistakes of the past that must not be committed again."
[Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejón is a Spanish economist and politician serving as Prime Minister of Spain since 2 June 2018. He is also Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, holding office for the second time after winning a leadership election in June 2017]
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Excerpted from article by Raymond Bonner
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