VP defends Venezuela’s pandemic response before UN

Geneva, Jan 25 (EFE).- Venezuela’s leftist government has responded admirably to the Covid-19 pandemic despite a “criminal blockade” of the South American nation by Washington and its allies, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

“Compared to the private health care of the capitalist systems, our public model has been a success in managing the pandemic,” she said via video conference during the Geneva-based Council’s latest periodic review of Venezuela’s human rights record.

Venezuela responded effectively to the health emergency “even though (US-led) economic suffocation deprived us of 99 percent of our hard currency reserves … resources for purchasing vaccines, treatments and equipment were blocked,” said Rodriguez, who headed up a delegation that also included several of leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s Cabinet ministers.

The vice president said the UK was as responsible as the US for Venezuela’s well-publicized economic hardships because it blocked Venezuela from accessing nearly $2 billion worth of gold reserves stored at the Bank of England.

Rodriguez also criticized a 2021 report on Colombia by the UN Refugee Agency, saying it had turned a country that had been the world leader in internally displaced people (more than 8 million) two years ago into the new second-leading host country for refugees, many of whom had arrived from Venezuela.

She said the report’s methodology was faulty, adding that a “very dangerous hidden agenda” is at work and that the US government is trying to artificially create an humanitarian crisis in Venezuela to justify an intervention.

After Rodriguez made her remarks, representatives of other UN member states accused the Venezuelan government of human rights violations, harassment of the opposition and failing to ensure an independent judiciary.

The US demanded that senior officials in the “Maduro regime” (a phrase Venezuela objected to as inappropriate) be held to account for alleged multiple human rights violations.

Rodriguez shot back by saying that “aggressor countries” like the US, “architect of the criminal blockade (severe sanctions on Venezuela’s lifeblood oil industry),” cannot be the judges of our country nor our human rights system.”

Brazil called on Venezuela to “guarantee free, fair and peaceful elections in order to restore democracy,” while Canada urged an end to the harassment of journalists and human rights activists.

Several delegations also demanded the release of people allegedly detained for political motives in Venezuela.

Allies of Caracas like Syria, China and Cuba, however, used their time to denounce the crippling sanctions that then-US President Donald Trump imposed on Venezuela in a bid to effect regime change and which largely remain in place under his successor, Joe Biden.

Biden’s administration slightly eased the punitive measures last year when it allowed non-US companies to export liquefied petroleum gas – widely used to cook meals – to Venezuela as a temporary humanitarian gesture. EFE


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