There can only be a political and peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 26 February 2019
I thank Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, for her very informative briefing on the unrelenting tragic situation facing the Venezuelan people.
As Venezuela undergoes the most serious humanitarian crisis in its history and civilians, especially women and children, are dying for lack of access to adequate health care and basic needs, Mr. Maduro’s regime decided on 23 February to prohibit international aid from reaching the country’s population. His forces did not hesitate to kill, and they wounded several hundred people in clashes with unarmed civilians on the borders. The regime resorted to using armed militias in its pay, known for their particular brutality. Hundreds of Venezuelan soldiers preferred to defect rather than attack their compatriots.
Since the beginning of this crisis, France has affirmed its unfailing support for the Venezuelan people and their legitimate demands. We are referring to the women and men who are suffering from shortages in basic necessities and a health-care system in shambles; to the women and men who have had to flee their country, as they can no longer live in dignity and security; and to the women and men who are calling for the return of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. In that regard, I would like to stress two points.
First, this political and humanitarian crisis did not come about by chance. As the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini, recalled on 24 February,“The origins of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela are political and institutional; hence, the solution can only be a political one”.
Accordingly, the crisis is the result of the regime’s multiple violations of the rule of law and the Venezuelan Constitution, which, on 20 May 2018, culminated in the holding of presidential elections lacking in transparency and credibility and held in oppressive circumstances. Nicolás Maduro, who claimed to be the winner, enjoys no legitimacy based on that claim. Many countries, including France and its European partners, drew the necessary conclusions. The President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, became interim President, not propped up by foreign support but through respect for the Constitution of Venezuela, in order to organize the holding of new, free, credible and transparent presidential elections.
Although the situation seems at a stalemate, the European Union and Uruguay have launched an international contact group in which France is taking part. The group has two clear goals, which France shares. The first is to encourage a negotiated and peaceful exit out of the crisis, as the use of force and violence must be avoided in Venezuela. France especially stresses the latter point. There can only be a political and peaceful solution to the crisis, and such a solution involves the holding of democratic presidential elections as soon as possible. The second goal is to allow the delivery of international aid, in accordance with international humanitarian principles, so as to meet the urgent needs of the Venezuelan people.
In blocking humanitarian aid in the middle of an unprecedented crisis the regime is acting disgracefully in the eyes of the international community and its own people. For several years now, millions of Venezuelans have faced the greatest challenges in terms of providing food and caring for themselves, as victims of a severely corrupt system. In its national capacity and under the aegis of the European Union, France is committed to helping those women and men who are in desperate need. We will pursue our efforts in close cooperation with the relevant United Nations agencies, with full respect for the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. In particular, we must collectively increase our efforts to help international, governmental and non-governmental organizations meet the needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.
We call on the Venezuelan regime to demonstrate humanity and facilitate access for United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations to carry out their activities in the country aimed at alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people. It is a question of life or death for thousands of people; each minute we lose represents lives lost. I commend once again the courage of those Venezuelans who have stood ready for several years now to help their fellow citizens. They deserve our unreserved admiration and full support.
Allow me to conclude by underscoring the following point. Although today Venezuela is on the edge of the precipice, our responsibility is not to substitute ourselves for the Venezuelan people. It is to provide them once again with a voice and allow them to express themselves freely to reclaim their destiny through the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. That is the direction in which France is working.