US unimpressed with govt's Venezuela statement

Published On: February 1, 2019 06:52 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

KATHMANDU, Feb 1: Even as the government's official statement on the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela tried to distance itself from the ruling party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's statement criticizing US and its allies, this has failed to impress the US officials in Kathmandu.

Diplomatic sources said US officials have taken the statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on the Venezuelan crisis as not essentially different in its content as compared to Dahal's previous statement, although “the language has been improved with fine editing.”

Shortly after Dahal issued the statement that criticized US and its allies for “intervention in the internal affairs of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with the intention of increasing the violence by dividing people and challenging democracy, sovereignty and peace,” US Embassy in Kathmandu had sought clarification with senior government officials if Dahal's statement was the official position of the government. “The government's statement only sparked confusion. It did not clarify anything,” said the sources familiar with the development.

The MoFA statement on Tuesday had stressed the need for resolving the Venezuelan crisis “free from external interference”—something US officials in Kathmandu have described as continuation of Dahal's earlier statement. “The statement fails to clear any air of confusions. Although the language has been changed, this contains no different intention,” added the sources.

Although the MoFA statement did not specifically mention the name of any countries, it emphasized the need for resolving the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela without “external interference.” “In line with its principled position, Nepal believes that internal political problems of a country need to be resolved within its constitutional parameters in a democratic manner, free from external interferences,” the MoFA statement said.

Venezuela has been witnessing massive protests after President Nicolas Maduro, who secured another six-year term last May in a disputed election, was sworn in two weeks ago. Political turmoil took a dramatic turn after the opposition leader and upper house chair Juan Guaido, who is leading massive street protests, declared himself the interim president, and was subsequently able to win recognition from the US and its allies.

The declaration by Guaido was in line with the Articles 333 and 350 of the Venezuelan Constitution. He made this declaration with full support of the upper house.

The US has maintained its position that the ongoing political crisis has now not just remained an internal affair, but a matter of grave international concern, given the huge humanitarian crisis in the country and gross violation of human rights due to misuse of state apparatus by the Maduro regime. Chairman Dahal's statement had earlier said that US recognition to opposition leader was “an unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of imperialist coup.”

US officials have maintained that the statements issued by Dahal and the government fail to properly recognize the ground reality in Venezuela. President Maduro not only has been prolonging his stay in power through manipulations of the country's laws in his favor, but also had suppressed all his opponents through arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and killings for years in his bid to consolidate powers in his hands.

Under the Maduro regime, Venezuela has not only witnessed 100,000 percent inflation, but also rendered 90 percent of the total population below absolute poverty line. The oil-rich nation owes hundreds of billions of dollars to China and Russia and most of the revenue generated from the sale of crude oil goes into the debt servicing.

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