The United Nations (UN)’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.