World leaders took the stage at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City today, many of whom chose their time in the global spotlight to condemn the Maduro regime and call for international resolve to restore democracy in the country.
The most notable intervention of the day came from United States President Donald Trump, whose unconventional speech dedicated several minutes to the matter of Venezuela. President Trump called on Latin American nations to “do more to address” the Venezuelan crisis, and “called for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela”.
Below, an excerpt from President Trump’s speech before the General Assembly:
The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.
The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.
As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.
The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
The president’s speech took a more controversial turn as his comments on socialism were met by bewildered murmurs from the audience and a spattering of applause. He said:
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.
President Trump’s speech was followed shortly afterwards by the one from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who expressed similar concerns about the ongoing Venezuelan crisis. President Santos said:
We feel Venezuela’s pain, with which we share an immense border and a common history. The destruction of their democracy pains us.
President Santos also called on member nations to help restore democracy in the country, saying:
We must support the Venezuelan people in their search for a peaceful solution that will see a return of democracy and liberty to Venezuela.
During his turn at the podium, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the world to resist the “tendency towards dictatorship” in Venezuela, saying:
Collective action must mount pressure [on the Maduro regime] until there is a respect for democracy.
Maduro: Trump is “The New Hitler”, Says President “Threatened to Kill Me”
Maduro reacted to Trump’s speech at the United Nations today during a televised address in which he compared his United States counterpart to Adolf Hitler. Maduro summarized Trump’s speech in the following way:
We can say that it is an aggression from the new Hitler against international politics (…) Racial supremacy, imperial supremacy were expressed today by the magnate who thinks himself the owner of the world…
During the same speech, Maduro asserted before supporters that he had taken Trump’s speech to be a direct attack against his life. Referencing a meeting that Trump had with Latin American leaders on the Venezuelan crisis yesterday, Maduro said:
There was a meeting of the Judases of America yesterday to receive orders from the devil [Trump] in New York. But the threat that Donald Trump made yesterday and today, I have interpreted correctly and exactly [sic]. I want to tell the people (…) Donald Trump has threatened to kill the president of Venezuela.
It’s not clear exactly which part of Trump’s speech Maduro interpreted as a direct threat on his life.
At the same time, Maduro speculated that the reason why there is growing consensus in the international community that he is a dictator is only a ploy to justify his assassination. He explained:
They talk about dictatorship in Venezuela because they’ve come up with an extremist formula against the world and against Venezuela. That thing they did to us over the 120 days between April and July [the summer protests] had the US’ prints on it. They say that there’s a dictatorship so that they can justify whatever the right wing does: a coup d’etat, sanctions, and to justify killing the President and saying that they killed him because he was a dictator.
On Trump’s criticism of socialism as a system of governance, Maduro challenged the United States president to a debate on the merits of the model, saying:
[Let us hold a debate] wherever you want, whenever you want and however you want on the civil and Christian socialist model that we have installed in Venezuela. You have no morals to criticize it [sic].
Peru Summons Lima Declaration Signatories To NYC Meeting
The Peruvian ministry of foreign affairs has called for a meeting of the Lima Declaration signatories, a group of countries that have agreed to recognize the opposition-controlled National Assembly as the legitimate legislature of Venezuela, and to ignore every decision by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly.
According to El Nacional, the point of this new meeting will be to “evaluate and adopt new measures to face the Venezuelan crisis”.
The Lima Declaration was signed on August 8 by the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia and Uruguay.
It is not clear if or when the New York City meeting will take place.
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