SA calls for Venezuela to determine their own destiny

SA’s Ambassador Jerry Matjila.
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South Africa has called for the international community to promote a framework of inclusive internal dialogue in order for the people of Venezuela to determine their own destiny.

That was the message delivered by the country’s Ambassador Jerry Matjila during a Security Council debate on the unfolding crisis in the Latin American country in which he warned that military threats against Caracas run counter to the purposes of the United Nations (UN).

The United States (US), that called the meeting, has indicated it would introduce a draft resolution to compel the government of President Nicholas Maduro to accept humanitarian aid.

Inconsistent with the purposes of the UN. That was the message from Pretoria’s envoy Jerry Matjila who pointed to a divided Council grappling with the internal affairs of a fellow member state.

“For us in South Africa this sets a very bad precedent. We, on the African continent, have suffered a great deal as external forces used undemocratic tools of regime change to solve problems on the continent. In principle we are strongly opposed to this way of solving any problem. This approach takes away the basic rights of the people of the country to determine their own future.”

South Africa’s position runs counter to that of the Lima Group of Latin American states, supported by the United States and the European Union, that has called for fresh Presidential elections organized by opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido.

While Russia and China called for the UN Charter to be respected, Matjila warned that if dialogue was ignored, it would lead to a prolonged crisis in the country.

“Forcing the parties to accept a prescript to resolving their own crisis, including through ultimatums, will only encourage further antagonism and division.  Therefore, we call on this Council and all those truly interested in the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Venezuela to consider the question, “What is the alternative to dialogue?” The alternative, as we have seen in other cases where dialogue was ignored, will be a prolonged crisis and possible military entanglements. This will only be to the further detriment of the people of Venezuela.”

But that position went against the majority of Council members, with Germany’s Ambassador Christoph Huesgen taking particular issue with South Africa.

“I disagree with my South African friend, I think this belongs on the agenda, this is a threat for international peace and I thought we would agree on this that human rights is also not an internal affair but (and I quote from the universal declaration) “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”. And also I thought with your background that you would also support this view that human rights is something which is very important to respect and if human rights are blatantly violated, one has to look at this.”

The US envoy Elliot Abrams indicated that Washington would continue to impose sanctions on Venezuela.

“We do not get into hypotheticals, I think you can see what the policy is, as much diplomatic and economic and political pressure as we can along with the now I think 54 countries that have recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, so support the Venezuelan people’s desire for democracy, that’s our policy.”

He denied that the United States was preparing to intervene militarily in Venezuela but reiterated the position of President Donald Trump, that all options remained on the table.