Venezuela: the will of the people must be respected [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargée d’affaires a.i.
Security Council – 26 January 2019
I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo for her briefing on the tragic situation of the Venezuelan people.
Indeed, for nearly three years, Venezuela has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis — with a depleted economy, a population deprived of basic necessities and the tyrannical and brutal repression of opponents and peaceful protesters, as well as the exodus of more than 3 million Venezuelans, both migrants and refugees, eager to flee a situation that is, quite frankly, chaotic. The problem goes beyond the borders of Venezuela itself and is a destabilizing factor for regional security. It is therefore perfectly legitimate for the Security Council to address this issue as part of its role in conflict prevention. In that context, I would like to emphasize two priorities in moving towards a resolution of the crisis.
The first priority is nothing less than respect for the will of the people. In that regard, France applauds the bravery of the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who have been taking to the streets of Venezuela since 23 January. As said by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, democracy must be restored in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro, who seeks to undertake a second term on the basis of a mockery of an election, must immediately announce the organization of new presidential elections. They must be democratic — that is to say, free and transparent — and in accordance with the Venezuelan constitutional order and under international observation. France has campaigned tirelessly for a negotiated political solution to the crisis, and the European Union has repeatedly offered its help to achieve that goal. Nicolás Maduro must understand that he must now seize this last opportunity.
If such elections are not announced in a timely manner, the European Union, in accordance with the declaration that has just been adopted by its 28 members in Brussels, will take new measures, concerning in particular recognizing the Venezuelan authorities in accordance with article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution. As President Macron announced this morning, France is therefore ready to recognize Juan Guaidó, within 8 days, as interim President of Venezuela in order to initiate a political process.
Furthermore, France urges the Venezuelan authorities to respect the rights of the National Assembly, the only democratically elected institution, especially the principle of the immunity of its members, and to cease all acts of repression against the population.
Apart from its institutions, the men and women who are politically engaged in the defence of human rights and Venezuelan democracy must be able to pursue their activities without fear of threats or reprisals. The excessive use of force is simply unacceptable, especially against democratically elected representatives, civil society representatives and peaceful protesters. The Venezuelan people have the right to make their voices heard. In that respect, France recalls its commitment to the freedom of the press and the protection of journalists, who must be able to exercise their profession freely.
The second, and equally urgent, priority is to put an end to the humanitarian crisis. Millions of Venezuelans have had to leave their country in the absence of a State capable of providing basic services, including medical care and basic necessities. The solidarity of the countries of the region — in particular Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil — in the face of this human tragedy is to be welcomed. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, which have appointed a joint special representative, are also doing an outstanding job. France, in its national capacity, and the European Union are also contributing to this humanitarian effort to mitigate the suffering of the Venezuelan people.
As the situation continues to deteriorate, France urges the Venezuelan authorities to allow and facilitate the work of international humanitarian actors and non-governmental organizations that seek to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable men and women in society, in particular children, people with disabilities and the elderly. As a staunch proponent of freedom, equality and fraternity in accordance with its national motto, France stands alongside the Venezuelan people and hails the courage of all those who stand ready to defend the freedom and democratic institutions of their country.