The United Nations Security Council met today to discuss the unfolding political crisis in Venezuela. The meeting went ahead despite Russia’s attempt to stop it from happening.

During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

We’re here to urge all nations to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from former President Maduro’s illegitimate mafia state

Pompeo also said:

The time is now to support the Venezuelan people, recognize the new democratic government led by interim President Guaido, and end this nightmare.

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador tot he UN, said that the meeting was a “gross abuse” and that support for Guaido was tantamount to support for the “shameless and aggressive actions of the United States and its allies”.

EU Gives Maduro Ultimatum

The meeting was held as the European Union issued the Maduro regime an ultimatum: call free and fair elections within the next eight days, or the bloc will recognize Guaido as the country’s legitimate president.

Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Arreaza reacted to the ultimatum from the United Nations, saying:

Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not.

Below, the EU’s statement:

Venezuela Announces 30 Days of Talks with US

In a statement issued this evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is launched a 30-day period of negotiation with Washington. The talks will take place through a newly-minted office called Oficina de Intereses [Office of Interests], which will have an office in Caracas and in Washington.

During this 30-day period, all remaining U.S. consular staff will be allowed to remain in Venezuela, reversing Maduro’s order on January 23 to break all diplomatic ties with the country and expel all of its staff. Likewise, Venezuelan consular staff will be allowed to remain in the U.S. during this period.

The announcement came via a statement, which you can find here. The statement partially reads:

Subsequently, both government [Venezuela and the U.S.] have agreed to maintain relations to establish an Office of Interests in each capital, from which we will be able to tend to the migratory paperwork and other issues of bilateral interests… to do this, [we] have established a period of thirty days to reach the said agreement.

With this objective in mind, [we] have authorized the continued stay of remaining staff in each [diplomatic] mission, who will continue to carry out their diplomatic duties during this period of time, and [who] should base their activities exclusively in their embassies [as they did] prior to the break [of relations].

The statement goes on to say that if no agreement is reached within 30 days, “both [diplomatic missions] will cease their activities”,

Just yesterday, the United States announced that it had created the position of Special Envoy to Venezuela, whose head will deal exclusively with matters pertaining to the crisis in the country. The office is headed by Elliot Abrams, a diplomat who was convicted in 1991 for withholding evidence from Congress about the Iran-Contra Affair.

Military Attache in Washington Resigns, Backs Guaido

Colonel Jose Luis Silva, the military attache at the Venezuelan consulate in Washington, resigned from his his position today, and said that he backed Guaido as president.

Silva gave a telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald in which he said:

I, in my position as the attache of the Ministry of the United States in Venezuela, do not recognize Mr. Nicolas Maduro as President of Venezuela.

Silva also told the newspaper:

My message is for all soldiers, all who carry weapons: please, let us not attack the people. We are also the people, and we should stop continuing to support a government that has betrayed the most basic principles and who has sold our interests to other countries.

Silva also said that “a large percentage” of the Venezuelan consular staff do not back Maduro, and that they are “afraid” of what might happen to their families in the country if they were to make their views public.

Silva said:

Enough is enough. Let us recognize the real president of Venezuela according to the law, Juan Guaido.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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