In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro praised President Barack Obama’s “courage” in working with Cuba, while condemning “neoliberalism” and calling for a “new geopolitical system.”
Venezuela is currently undergoing a severe political crisis, as Maduro has significantly limited the freedom of expression and imposed socialist price controls that have ravaged the nation. Maduro barely touched on these subjects, however, instead spending most of his remarks discussing Simón Bolívar, the founder of Venezuela; the evils of neoliberalism and wars in the Middle East; and praising President Obama.
Maduro called for “a world where people can live together, a world of peace and justice… a political approach that rejects any kind of hegemonism [sic] and economic domination.” He condemned what he called “neoliberalism” for “bringing about extreme poverty, unemployment, sickness to peoples all across the world.” While he applauded the efforts of “the revolutionary peoples” around the world for fighting neoliberalism with socialism, he rapidly changed topics to the Middle East.
Maduro had kind words for the Libya dictator Muammar Qaddafi. “What was done in Libya was a crime,” he said of the toppling of Qaddafi. “It was a country that was stable, that provided support to countries in Africa… now, today, what is Libya? Is it a stable country?” he asked. Maduro, who is one of the few public supporters of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, also lamented the state of that country. “It is a Hollywood version of terrorism,” he said of the state of Syria, “it is like watching a film about terrorism.”
Despite the horrors of the Middle East, Maduro asserted that Latin America “has some good news to share.” “Latin America has found its moral path to dignity and to the future,” he asserted. Maduro demanded that the United States yield its property in Guantánamo Bay to the Cuban communist regime—a demand Cuban dictator Raúl Castro made on the same stage yesterday—but otherwise complimented the United States. He lauded “the courage of President Barack Obama” for being “bold enough to develop a new policy vis a vis Cuba,” and encouraged the lifting of economic sanctions on the Castro regime. He did not mention the embargo that Cuba has imposed on the United States for decades, which has not been discussed as part of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Maduro also mentioned in passing the violent mass deportations that he ordered of Colombian nationals in western Venezuela, describing his diplomatic negotiations with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as a success.