Your Excellency, General Secretary Antonio Guterres, honorable representatives, fellow Venezuelans, good evening to all.
I feel a great responsibility in addressing you today as the President in Charge of Venezuela, representing the National Assembly of Venezuela, the only democratically elected national power, which today has the support of more than 140 political and civil society organizations, and together we make up the true democratic and civic Venezuela.
Today I represent the feelings of millions of my Venezuelan brothers in the proposals I will make, both those here in Venezuela and the five million who have been forced to emigrate. My words are inspired by their civic spirit, their democratic values, and their courage in not giving in until they achieve the freedom of our country.
The recurrence of armed conflicts in the last century, two world wars, and the systematic violations of human rights were the triggers for the establishment of the United Nations. These historical tragedies have shaken the conscience of world leaders many of whom I have the honor to speak to today. For decades now we have understood that all States have the responsibility to protect our populations and to guarantee human rights and human dignity, not only in our own territories, but throughout the world.
Today I am speaking to you from here, in an act of democratic vindication of the true representatives of the Venezuelan people, because the dictatorial regime, with links to the drug trafficking and human rights violations of Nicolás Maduro, is also usurping Venezuela’s right to speak at the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The free and democratic world recognizes that Nicolás Maduro has made an illegitimate use of force to usurp the Presidency of the Republic, to persecute any citizen who opposes him, and to use the resources of the Nation to finance drug trafficking and terrorist mafias that support him in maintaining control of the national territory, against and in spite of, the suffering of millions of Venezuelans.
We know that the situation in Venezuela is not conventional, and neither is the dictatorship that seeks to extinguish every vestige of democracy. It is almost unprecedented that a country with one of the largest oil reserves in the world, vast natural resources and a democratic tradition that was stable in the past, should become what it is today: a territory controlled by a criminal organization that holds power by force, promotes illegal activities to finance itself, and systematically violates the human rights of Venezuelans.
With the conviction of freedom of the Venezuelan population, and the support of the international community by resorting to mechanisms of civic, peaceful, and above all constitutional struggle, to confront the most cruel regime that the region has seen in many years.
We have consolidated significant support from the international community, which has translated into sufficient pressure to prevent the regime from continuing to operate economically and politically with impunity.
We have managed to freeze resources stolen from the nation’s patrimony, and have redirected them to strengthen the fight against the Coronavirus in a joint effort with the Pan American Health Organization and the international Red Cross.
We have financially supported the heroes who are today fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, with the health sector being one of the most affected by the corruption that drained the resources of the State into the pockets of the regime’s leadership.
We have managed to focus the world’s attention on the violation of Human Rights and the commission of crimes against humanity by the regime in Venezuela.
Just last week the Independent Fact-Finding Mission of the Human Rights Council of this organization published a report and a detailed report that confirms the individual responsibility of Nicolás Maduro in the commission of crimes against humanity, and corroborates what we have been warning the international community for years: in Venezuela, the civilian population is systematically and extensively attacked for political reasons, and the person responsible behind these crimes is Nicolás Maduro.
The dictatorship tried to block and prevent the Independent Mission from fulfilling its mandate, and also tried to obstruct access to information by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and not satisfied with that, he who claims to be the Chancellor and the Attorney General of Maduro’s regime called the Independent Mission’s report a “fraud” and has accused its members of being “mercenaries”, pretending to ignore the testimonies of the victims who had to relive tragic moments in order to record the excessive and bloody actions of the security forces.
Citizens who deserve to be recognized and compensated. These testimonies deserve to be validated by the whole international community and that is why I allow myself this parenthesis to give voice to one of the thousands of survivors of this tragedy that we Venezuelans are going through, and I allow myself to quote it precisely from the report presented in the detailed conclusions report of the Independent Mission, which illustrates the level of cruelty of the dictatorship:
“The Mission also received disturbing information regarding the treatment of pregnant women detained by the DGCIM. The Mission received reliable information about a woman who had been brutally beaten and suffocated to the point of unconsciousness, despite the fact that both she and her boyfriend (who was also detained) informed officials that she was in the first trimester of pregnancy. Approximately one month after her arrest, officers took the victim to the hospital where she suffered a miscarriage. No medical care had been provided in the interim, despite requests from her family.”
This is just one of hundreds of testimonies collected by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission, which tell of the painful and all too common inhumane, cruel and degrading practices that the regime has applied since 2014. Nicolás Maduro has made violating human rights a requirement for being part of his regime. And yet, it is Nicolas Maduro who sends his representative to the Human Rights Council and spreads lies.
To those who at some point justified or supported Maduro, I want to reiterate the call to rectify, to stop the human rights violations that continue at this moment, to collaborate in putting an end to the terror that the dictatorship seeks to impose.
The reality is that Maduro does not want to solve the economic, social and political crisis in Venezuela. All his actions are aimed at annihilating any dissonant voice, any opposing political force, any conscience that remains free. The regime uses its de facto power over the territory to sponsor operations of national and transnational criminal organizations of drug and arms trafficking, of people and even resort to the recruitment of child soldiers.
Nicolás Maduro is now being pursued by the justice system, with a fifteen million dollar reward for his capture, due to his participation in drug trafficking activities.
But Maduro not only does NOT want to respect and defend human rights… he cannot.
He cannot protect victims from the consequences of his own crimes, because it was he who in the last seven years led a political project that has shown itself incapable of addressing the crisis in public services. Today for example, only 8% of the gasoline the country needs to move is being supplied, and it is being distributed among the leaders of the dictatorship, a country with one of the largest and most important oil companies in the world. The mismanagement of state resources and the rampant corruption sponsored by the regime have bankrupted the country’s economy.
His latest proposal to further undermine democracy in Venezuela is to call for an illegal and fraudulent process of elections, pretending to eliminate the legitimate forces of the National Assembly, the only legitimate pillar standing in Venezuela, which today I have the pride and commitment to defend.
As Venezuelans, our only alternative has been to resist, and we have done so vehemently. We have promoted all the democratic initiatives established in the Venezuelan constitution, to find them illegally blocked by the dictatorship. We have voted, we have protested, we have established processes of dialogue with credible international mediators, we have called for processes of reconciliation and amnesty. No one can say that we have remained with our arms crossed at any time.
We Venezuelans are standing, facing horrors similar to those experienced when a country is at war, and that is due – to a great extent – to the hope we have that we will recover Venezuela, that our families will be reunited, and that our wounds will heal.
The Responsibility to Protect is incumbent upon States. I, as the legitimate representative of the Venezuelan State, have the responsibility to protect Venezuelans. But the criminal organization led by Nicolás Maduro has de facto control over the national territory through the illegitimate use of force.
Given this reality, and the responsibility of the office I hold, I must ask you today to align international assistance efforts to restore effective sovereignty in Venezuela, and to protect the unarmed civilian population from the systematic and repeated commission of crimes against humanity at the hands of the dictatorial regime that usurps the presidency of Venezuela.
The situation in Venezuela is not in the preventive phase of alerting about a possible risk. No, it is a crisis in full development. At this moment, as I address these words to you, there are Venezuelans being tortured in the dungeons of the dictatorship, there are Venezuelans who cannot access basic medicines, food, Venezuelans who cannot give their opinion, who cannot express themselves freely, there is a generation of children who dream of living in freedom. We cannot condemn them to a life of injustice, violence and repression.
Hand in hand with international allies, we have implemented preventive diplomacy mechanisms, individual economic sanctions have been put in place for those responsible for atrocious human rights violations. We have seen the results of the establishment of an Independent Fact-Finding Mission, we have officially and formally denounced – with the help of other countries in the region – Nicolás Maduro’s regime before the International Criminal Court.
We have reached almost the end of the steps that the bases of the responsibility to protect built on peaceful and diplomatic mechanisms. Great tragedies of humanity have been followed by periods of reflection on the failures of the international community, and the conclusion has been clear: too often diplomacy has come too late, or not at all. Today, I ask all representatives of Member States to assume the responsibility of assisting the legitimate government of Venezuela in its mission to protect the Venezuelan people, and to consider a strategy that contemplates scenarios after the diplomatic path has been exhausted. The time has come for timely and decisive action.
All the people of Venezuela are grateful to those who have not remained indifferent to this tragedy, to those who have accompanied us in the darkest hours of our nation. Now we must ask them to continue to insist on the path of international pressure. We are convinced that this is the way to see the demise of the dictatorship, ever more cruel and desperate.
The mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission must be extended, and the field mission of the High Commissioner of Human Rights for Venezuela must continue to be supported, ensuring that it has all the necessary resources for the execution of its mandate.
I also call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to mobilize the political will of Member States to effectively restore sovereignty in Venezuela and to protect the civilian people from the atrocities of a criminal regime. Honorable Mr. Guterres, as you rightly indicated in 2018 during the General Assembly debate on the Responsibility to Protect of States: “fundamental principles mean little if they are not applied when they are most needed. Today, in Venezuela, they are needed most.”
I personally ask all the representatives present, especially those belonging to the Human Rights Council, to read the Detailed Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission, to get to know the testimonies, and if they can, to put a face to the systematic torture. And after that, it will be up to them to consider proceeding with their governments to denounce Nicolás Maduro before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity on the civilian population of Venezuela.
The Venezuelan people will continue to advance with firm steps until freedom is achieved. Let us hope that the international community will also remain firm in its conviction to assist us.
In this 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly we hope to continue counting on your support. Let us hope that in the next session we will celebrate together Venezuela’s return to the democratic path.
Thank you for your time and attention.
May God bless you.