The Latin American and Caribbean governments represented at the United Nations have endorsed the candidacy of the Venezuelan tyranny created by the late Hugo Chávez and continued by his appointed successor, Nicolás Maduro, to represent them for a non- permanent seat at the Security Council for the period 2015-16.
It could not come at a worse moment for world peace. Dangerous forces are threatening global security, and unity is required to face these emerging threats. Venezuela is not a reliable ally in these times.
For example: The Security Council has unanimously agreed that countries should pass laws against traveling abroad to join terrorist groups or financing those efforts. Yet Venezuela’s regime is known for providing passports to those from the Middle East belonging to radical groups, including Hezbollah, as well as cooperating and providing logistics for the narco-terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The government is so deeply implicated in these shady affairs that five Venezuelan generals have been included on the U.S. Treasury Department’s “kingpin list.” Two of them are state governors and active members the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
It is shameful and irresponsible for regional governments that pride themselves on being democratic, some of which have suffered military dominance in the past, to support a regime that for the last 15 years has been associated with the likes of Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi, Bashar Assad and Robert Mugabe.
These governments know about the collapse of democracy in Venezuela, as well as its terrible human-rights record, including a wave of arrests of hundreds of political protestors earlier this year. The government’s actions have been denounced by all the major human-rights organizations in the region. This reality, together with the absence of the rule of law and of free speech, does not make Venezuela an appropriate candidate to represent Latin America and the Caribbean.
These countries must also know that the Venezuelan regime is under the control of the Cuban government, and that Cuba will be the de facto representative in the Security Council. They also know that more than half of the Jewish community in Venezuela has been forced to leave the country because of the harassment inflicted on them after the regime broke diplomatic relations with Israel, calling it a genocidal state.
So why do Latin American and Caribbean governments support Venezuela’s bid? Some to repay favors received through Venezuela’s petro-dollar diplomacy, which consists of providing oil at concessionary prices. Others want to please domestic leftist groups, and still others to strike at the United States in the Security Council through Venezuela
Two cases are illuminating:
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, when he was minister of defense in a previous government, documented the criminal role played by the Venezuelan regime with the narco-terrorist FARC. Yet even knowing that, he has decided to endorse the Maduro regime’s U.N. effort.
Chile, which benefited when earlier Venezuelan democratic governments helped liberate prominent Chilean democratic politicians held by the dictatorship of the late Augusto Pinochet, did not hesitate to endorse the U.N. effort of the non-democratic regime in Caracas.
Venezuela has held a Security Council seat four times. During its last tenure, in 1992-93, I had the privilege of being Venezuela’s representative. Our country distinguished itself as a reliable and trustworthy member of the international community and an active promoter and defender of human rights and respect for international law.
The U.N. General Assembly, which has the final say on Security Council membership, should know that it is not in the interest of the international community for Venezuela to succeed. It should not provide the two-thirds majority vote necessary, because Venezuela does not deserve a seat on the most important arm of the United Nations.
Diego Arria is a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations.