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LATIN AMERICA | 22-06-2020 19:26

Venezuela accuses US of blocking ability to pay UN dues

Venezuela accuses United States of blocking its ability to pay dues to the United Nations, making it was the only country unable to vote in the UN General Assembly elections on June 17.

Venezuela is accusing the United States of blocking its ability to pay over US$21 million in dues to the United Nations causing the loss of its voting rights in the General Assembly.

Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Samuel Moncada asked UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a letter circulated Monday to redouble efforts to enable it to pay.

He said US sanctions “have prevented us from successfully transferring the required funds to United Nations bank accounts located not only in the United States but also in other countries.”

“Each and every time we have attempted to wire-transfer the resources," Moncada said, “the transactions have been rejected or sent back to our bank accounts –– in the best scenario –– while in other instances they have been frozen or confiscated, pursuant to compliance with United States-imposed sanctions against Venezuela or threats from the United States government to those financial institutions.”

The United States was first among more than 50 nations to back Juan Guaidó, who as head of Venezuela’s opposition-led congress claimed presidential powers in early 2019, arguing that President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election had been invalid.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump appeared to walk back comments in a weekend interview that he would consider meeting Maduro, which cast doubt on his support for Guaidó. In a tweet, Trump said: “I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!”

The United Nations recognises the Maduro government as representing Venezuela, and Moncada accused the Trump administration of violating the US agreement with the United Nations as its host nation by preventing the country from “fully and efficiently” discharging its responsibilities to the global organisation.

Moncada asked secretary-general Guterres to engage personally to ensure that the US doesn’t “abuse its role” and “abides by both the letter and spirit of the host country agreement” and to ensure that countries don't lose voting rights for reasons “well beyond their control" that result from illegal sanctions that violate the UN Charter.

Under UN rules, countries that don’t pay dues lose voting privileges in the 193-member General Assembly.

Moncada said in the letter dated June 15 — two days before elections in the assembly for a new president, five members of the Security Council and 18 members of the Economic and Social Council — that it has tried since last year “to both find and establish a financial route that would allow for the safe transfer of our resources for settling our dues with the organisation.”

He said the Maduro government has held bilateral talks with US representatives “but no feedback at all has been received thus far.” He said Venezuela sought an exemption from the General Assembly Committee on Contributions from paying dues given the difficulties, but was advised informally that the United States and United Kingdom blocked the request which requires consensus.

The result was that Venezuela was the only country not to vote in the June 17 elections.

Moncada stressed that Venezuela is not requesting debt forgiveness, and has the over US$21 million for the minimum payment to restore its voting rights.

by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

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