Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council demanded the United States step down from the organization Tuesday and apologize for “atrocities committed throughout history” after a scathing condemnation from his American counterpart Nikki Haley.
Haley criticized the Human Rights Council for allowing Venezuela, a socialist dictatorship guilty of wanton use of state violence against unarmed civilians, on the council at all, and refusing to consider any resolutions in support of the aggrieved population.
Venezuelan Ambassador Jorge Valero, in turn, demanded that Haley and the United States “not only step down from this council, but also apologize to the world for the atrocities they have committed throughout history,” according to Venezuela’s state-run VTV outlet. The ambassador made references to “preemptive wars” and “the practice of torture on people within illegal detention centers,” apparent references to the second Iraq war and the use of the Guantánamo Bay military facility to interrogate jihadi suspects.
Valero was responding to an impassioned speech by Haley at the Geneva council Tuesday in which she condemned the repeated accusations the U.N. committee makes against Israel while allowing rogue states like Venezuela to act with impunity. “It’s hard to accept that this Council has never considered a resolution on Venezuela, and yet it adopted five biased resolutions in March against a single country–Israel,” she told her peers. “It is essential that this Council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”
Haley added that Venezuela should “voluntarily step down from its seat on the Human Rights Council until it can get its own house in order. Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human right violator should be allowed a seat at the table.”
Valero accused the United States of “being behind the destabilization and violence in Venezuela” caused by the socialist regime.
“The intervention by the ambassador of the Empire has been pathetic,” Valero said, “It is clear… who is behind the destabilization and criminal violence in Venezuela.”
Valero’s rant is the latest in a string of anti-American screeds from high-ranking Venezuelan officials directed specifically at the Trump administration.
Dictator Nicolás Maduro began the year attempting to cozy up to Trump, initially stating he was hoping for “the best respectful relations” with the 45th president and praising the White House for offering affordable food prices. He also praised Trump for his stance on ending illegal drug trafficking, changing his tune when the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Maduro’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, for his ties to trafficking under the Drug Kingpin Act. El Aissami responded with a full-page ad in the New York Times calling the sanctions “illegal” and “a serious violation against my human rights.”
Maduro subsequently appeared intent on convincing President Trump that what his officials had told him about the Venezuelan regime was wrong. “Open your hair. Don’t let them got to you,” Maduro told Trump, in an English-language message leaving American media scratching their heads.
By May, President Trump was meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and condemning Maduro’s regime outright, demanding the socialists adhere to international human rights norms. The U.S. Treasury sanctioned all members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court for attempting to usurp the power of the National Assembly, installing themselves as the nation’s legislature. The United States also worked to galvanize anti-socialist sentiment at the Organization of American States (OAS) to invoke the regional organization’s democratic charter against Venezuela.
Maduro issued a response to Trump’s call for change during his meeting with Santos, referring to America as “a government that hates Latin America” and accused Trump himself of taking “off his mask attacking our country this week.”
“I reject and repudiate Donald Trump’s statements against the dignity of the Venezuelan nation,” he demanded, adding in English, “Go home, Donald Trump!”
Last week, Maduro once again attacked Trump for being the leader of “xenophobic right-wing extremists who despise our culture, our history, our countries.”
As of June 5, 84 people – most civilians, most in their 20s – have been killed in the wave of daily protests that began in April, following the Supreme Court’s attempt to nullify the legislature.