North Korea’s foreign affairs ministry issued a statement Monday in defense of Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, stating that support for legitimate President Juan Guaidó was “an extremely dangerous act of violence” and part of a sinister American plot.
North Korea has long been an ally to late dictator Hugo Chávez and, now, Maduro, routinely signing political agreements with Caracas and condemning those who highlight the brutality of the Maduro regime. North Korea itself has half a century of history imposing famine and countless human rights abuses on its population, believed to still be home to forced labor camps housing over 100,000 people.
Venezuela is currently undergoing the most severe political crisis in its history, exacerbated by claims by Guaidó last week that the nation’s military had finally stopped taking orders from Maduro and accepted him as their commander in chief. As of press time, the reality on the ground is more complicated: some soldiers did defect to Guaidó, but the nation’s senior military leadership still backs Maduro and has ordered the use of military force against unarmed civilians who protest the regime.
North Korea adopted the Maduro regime’s incorrect description of Guaidó’s call for an uprising a “coup” and urged the United States, which has no known military presence on the ground in Venezuela, to cease intimidating Maduro.
“The latest coup d’état attempt is an extremely dangerous act of violence that pushes the Venezuelan situation to an utmost instability, having a highly negative impact on the overall situation in the region,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The situation in Venezuela is being aggravated day by day, because the internal anti-government forces are launching, with the support of the outside forces, a campaign against the president from January and the hostile forces are making undisguised attempt to deprive Venezuela of its representation in the United Nations,” the statement continued. “At the same time, the United States, acting like a ‘single superpower,’ is making such reckless remarks that a military action is possible with regard to the Venezuelan situation and the U.S. will carry out that action if so necessary.”
North Korea went on to “condemn all of the attempts for removing the legitimately elected president of Venezuela,” referring inaccurately to Maduro, “and interfering in its internal affairs as a challenge to international justice and a flagrant violation of international law.”
North Korea was among the first nations to condemn Guaidó’s inauguration as president in January, a legal process following rules in the Venezuelan constitution. North Korea called his swearing in “an abnormal situaton” and warned, “any attempt by outside forces to remove a president legitimately elected according to the constitution of a sovereign state is an undisguised interference in internal affairs and a wanton violation of international law.”
Guaidó was inaugurated precisely because Maduro was not democratically elected; he held elections in May 2018 in which he competed only against other socialists and used state force to intimidate voters.
North Korea most recently sent its former top party head under dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Yong-nam, to Venezuela in November to meet with Maduro. Kim and Maduro signed several memoranda of understanding regarding foreign policy whose details remained confidential. At the time, Maduro said in a public statement on Twitter that the two had agreed to “strengthen diplomatic and political relations between the two states.”
Sostuve un importante encuentro de trabajo con el excelentísimo Kim Yong Nam, Presidente del Presídium de la Asamblea Popular Suprema de la República Popular Democrática de Corea, en el que acordamos fortalecer las relaciones diplomáticas y políticas entre ambos Estados. pic.twitter.com/6fDelnUode
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) November 28, 2018
Through its foreign ministry and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the official communist party of the country, North Korea has repeatedly expressed support for the socialist regime in Venezuela. In early 2018, the party sent a message to Maduro expressing “the firm support
and solidarity to the struggle of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela for defending the sovereignty of the country and the social and political stability under the banner of the Bolivarian revolution.”
The year before that, North Korea sent a delegation of financial advisers to Venezuela to tutor Venezuelan officials on economics amid its continuing economic collapse. Maduro’s team repeatedly denied the existence of an economic crisis in the country even as widespread reports circulated of over 90 percent of Venezuelans not having access to three meals of food a day. In 2016, Maduro appointed an economic minister who said inflation did not exist.
North Korea is perhaps the most ignominious member of the group of nations that support Maduro. The most vocal so far since Guaidó’s announcement last week is Russia, which welcomed Maduro’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza this weekend. Arreaza said Monday he is considering requesting an “expanded” Russian military presence in the country to combat soldiers loyal to Guaidó. Russia is second only to Cuba in the number of its troops stationed in the country, experts believe.
Russian allies like Syria and Iran also support Maduro. The regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad called Guaidó’s inauguration “a blatant violation of all international laws” and urged Maduro to stay in power. The Iranian Foreign Ministry last week warned the United States to stay out of Venezuela.
“The Islamic Republic condemns U.S. attempts to stage a coup or any other type of military action in Venezuela,”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday.
As of Monday morning, Iranian government news agencies are peddling a conspiracy that Washington has planned to assassinate Juan Guaidó.