On the eve of action by the United Nations on Venezuela’s bid for a rotating two-year term on the Security Council, a group of national security and human rights experts has written President Obama urging him to ensure that the United States exercises all prerogatives available to it as a permanent member of the Security Council to oppose this initiative.
The group’s letter, penned and reported by the Center for Security Policy on Tuesday to President Obama notes that starting with the leadership of the late Hugo Chavez, and presently under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro, the government of Venezuela has undertaken policies hostile both to security and to human rights in the western hemisphere and beyond. The opposition includes the provision of safe havens within Venezuela, and other forms of material support, to terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the FARC; support for the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea and Iran; and harsh repression of the Venezuelan people.
Among the signatories of the letter, organized by the Center for Security Policy, were Amb. Otto Reich, Former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Amb. Roger F. Noriega, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS); Hon. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission; Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Former Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations.
Other signatories include Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and former U.S. Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks, the Honorable Tidal McCoy, Former Secretary of the Air Force (Acting); José Cárdenas, Former Staff Member, National Security Council; Former Acting Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Michael Braun, Former Chief of Operations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
In response to the letter to President Obama, President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., said, “The notion that international security would be well-served by Venezuela’s presence on the United Nations Security Council cannot withstand overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
“Nicolas Maduro has continued Hugo Chavez’s legacy of destabilization and radicalization of Latin America, support for terrorism, and repression of human rights domestically, all of which stand in stark contrast to American, and indeed Western, national security interests and values, “Gaffney said. “President Obama should heed the advice of these national security and human rights experts and oppose Venezuela’s bid – neutrality on such a fundamental question is not an option.”
In September 2014, Reuters reported that the United States will not stand in the way of Venezuela securing a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council in 2015-16 after Latin American and Caribbean states unanimously endorsed its bid but Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the WJS reported on Sunday that Venezuela is running unchallenged for one of the two non-permanent, two-year Security Council seats that are set aside for Latin America and the Caribbean and O’Grady said, “Still, it can be defeated if one-third plus one of the members of the General Assembly block it. President George W. Bush achieved that result by working diplomatic channels the last time Venezuela was on the ballot, in 2008.”
“Today the risks are even greater, “said O’Grady. “Since the death of Hugo Chávez, Raúl Castro has effectively annexed the South American oil giant. Cuban intelligence and military personnel run Venezuelan state security and Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro answers to Havana. A Venezuelan seat would effectively be a seat for Cuba. As the voting begins on Wednesday, Americans will find out whether President Obama understands the issue or even cares.”