(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is seeking support for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Venezuela’s government for blocking humanitarian aid from entering the country and calling on President Nicolas Maduro to hold new elections.
The draft resolution calls for the “immediate start of a political process leading to free, fair, and credible presidential elections,” according to a copy of the document seen by Bloomberg. It also expresses “deep concern about the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Republic of Venezuela, including recent attempts to block the delivery of humanitarian aid.”
The U.S. is trying to build upon growing international pressure on Maduro to cede power after President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Juan Guaido -- the head of the national assembly -- as the interim president of Venezuela, a move that has since been followed by more than 30 governments worldwide.
The draft resolution frames Maduro as a threat to his neighbors. The text says the actions of his regime have “caused an economic collapse, forcing millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to leave Venezuela in search of food, basic medicines, and opportunities in other countries in the region.”
It also expresses concern with the “increasing strain on the capacity of nations in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide basic humanitarian services to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, including nutrition, water and sanitation, and basic medicines.”
Though a UN Security Council resolution would likely face vetoes by Russia and China, which have both backed the Maduro government, the U.S. may press forward regardless, calculating that the debate over the measure would help keep global attention focused on Venezuela, according to two diplomats aware of the resolution who asked not to be identified.
In order to pass, a Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no votes in opposition from any of the five permanent members: the U.K, U.S., Russia, France and China. Russia, which voted with China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea in a failed bid to block a meeting on Venezuela initiated by the U.S. last month, has also proposed an alternative text to the American resolution, according to the diplomats.
Maduro and Guaido are vying for support in the streets and the military. Maduro and the military are blocking aid trucks at the border with Colombia, calling them part of a U.S.-based effort to destabilize the government.
Under Maduro, Venezuela has endured one of the deepest economic collapses in recent history, with hyperinflation and ever-worsening shortages of basic goods. In a meeting at the Security Council last month on Venezuela, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said now “is time for every other nation to pick a side.”
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