Caracas brought talks with the US to an abrupt end over statements made by Samantha Power, the nominee for UN ambassador. Venezuela blasted Washington for backing Power’s “meddling agenda” after she criticized human rights in the country.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday announcing an end to rapprochement negotiations between Washington and Caracas in Guatemala.
“The Bolivarian Republican of Venezuela considers the diplomatic processes initiated in Guatemala over,” the Foreign Ministry said. They took issue with the statements of the US candidate for ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who expressed “concern” over Caracas’ management of human right issues on Wednesday before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
She added that if she were elected, she would fight against repression in Cuba and in Venezuela. Venezuela responded with ire, harshly contesting any attempt by the US to interfere in its internal policies.
“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression? There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro following Power’s comments.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will never accept meddling in its internal affairs. We reject the fact that a nominee for the post of UN ambassador has interference in Venezuela on her agenda,” said Elias Jaua, the Venezuelan minister of foreign affairs.
The statement went on to say that Caracas wished to build “good relations with the US” based on mutual respect for sovereignty and self-determination. However, Power’s statements contradict the stance outlined by US Foreign Minister John Kerry.
“[Venezuela] has fully demonstrated that it has a solid base in its constitution that guarantees the preservation of the practice and respect for Human Rights,” said Jaua. Furthermore, he said the world continually expresses concern about US rights abuses, referencing Washington’s failure to close Guantanamo and the practice of drone attacks.
Following Power’s words on Wednesday, Caracas sent a message to Washington, voicing Venezuela’s condemnation of her statements. The State Department responded by expressing their support for Power’s candidacy for UN ambassador.
“Samantha Power is an outstanding candidate and incredibly competent. We support her completely,” said spokeswoman for the State Department, Marie Harf.
On the rocks
US-Venezuelan relations have been under strain since 2010 when both countries withdrew their respective ambassadors. Moreover, tensions have been mounting recently over the case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, whom Venezuela has offered political asylum.
The US is demanding his extradition over the classified cables he released that blew the lid on Washington’s covert global surveillance programs.
On Friday following Caracas’ decision to grant asylum to Snowden, US Foreign Minister John Kerry rang his Venezuelan counterpart and threatened consequences should Snowden attempt to travel to Venezuela, reported Spanish ABC media outlet, citing a source familiar with the conversation.
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