Nine council members voted in favor, while South Africa joined Russia and China in voting against, and three abstained. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in support and no vetoes by the five permanent members, which include Russia and China. Both countries back the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
“If this resolution were to be adopted, it would be the first time in history the Security Council would decide to appoint a president and dismiss another one,” Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzya told the council. He said the US policy is a “smokescreen” for regime change.
“The corrupt former Maduro regime has caused an economic collapse that threatens peace and security throughout the region,” Elliott Abrams, the US envoy for Venezuela, told the Security Council on Thursday. “Millions of Venezuelans have fled their country in search of food, medicine, and opportunity.”
With Moscow and Washington supporting opposing sides, the council is likely to remain on the sidelines even as the South American nation’s population slips further into hunger and deprivation. Maduro has largely ignored the situation, but researchers have estimated 20,000 infants have died in the past two years, thanks to the crisis.
US allies on the Security Council – including France, the UK, Belgium, and Germany – have backed American calls for new elections but are wary about military escalation.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday ordered state oil company PDVSA’s office in Lisbon to be relocated to Moscow, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said, a move she said was designed to help safeguard her country’s assets.
Battered by economic collapse, Venezuela descended into a major political crisis when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and asserted that President Nicolas Maduro was no longer legitimate.
The United States is leading a push for recognition of Guaido, who heads the National Assembly. He is now backed by more than 50 countries.
The US administration on Friday slapped sanctions on six high-ranking Venezuelan security officials for obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into their country.
Guaido had announced that last weekend’s attempt to deliver US-supplied humanitarian aid from Colombia into Venezuela would be politically decisive, but Maduro called the aid part of a scheme to overthrow his government.