An inside look at how Venezuelan diplomats stymied a US attempt to revoke their credentials at the UN and shatter their nation’s sovereignty.
by Anya Parampil
Part 2 - The diplomatic battle begins
The stage for a dramatic UN General Assembly meeting was set months ago, on April 10, when US Vice President Mike Pence convened a meeting of the Security Council to launch an assault on diplomats representing Venezuela’s elected government.
“With all due respect Mr. Ambassador, you shouldn’t be here,” Pence barked at Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Samuel Moncada, refusing to look him directly in the eye. “You should return to Venezuela, and tell Nicolás Maduro that his time is up. It’s time for him to go.”
Moncada, a seasoned diplomat and professional historian whose salary has been effectively frozen thanks to US financial restrictions, took breaks from looking at his phone to stare defiantly at Pence while nodding his head in sarcastic agreement.
“This body should revoke the credentials of Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, recognize interim president Juan Guaidó, and seat the representative of the free Venezuelan Government in this body without delay,” Pence continued.
Mocada responded to Pence’s comments during an interview with The Grayzone in New York City shortly after the exchange.
“If he thought that [Pence] was doing some kind of harm to myself or Venezuela or the Venezuelan government, I think that he overdid it,” the ambassador commented, “that’s not diplomacy, that’s bullying. ‘Might is right’ is not the kind of thinking that succeeds here in the United Nations.”
One day before Pence’s visit to the UN, the Organization of American States voted to recognize Guaido’s representative to the group under pressure from the US.
The move, a complete violation of the OAS’ founding charter, signaled the lengths Washington to which would go in order to legitimize the Guaidó coup regime on the international level, and telegraphed its strategy for the UN.
“Fortunately, the United Nations is not the OAS,” Vice Minister Pimentel told The Grayzone after the General Assembly meeting. “[The US] cannot do whatever they wanted in the United Nations, as they have been doing with the OAS.”
According to Article 18 of the UN Charter, all decisions including “the suspension of the rights and privileges of membership [or] the expulsion of Members” must be “made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting” at any given time.
In 2009, however, Madagascar’s then-President Andry Rajoelina was prevented from addressing the UNGA after a simple majority of present and counting nations voted to block his right to speak.
The precedent suggested the US could try to punish Venezuela in the same manner, triggering a game of numbers between Caracas and Washington in the months leading up to the GA.
“They are working their way to gather the numbers, and we are also working our way. And the majority of the world recognizes that if that procedure succeeds [with Venezuela], it could be applied to anyone else as well,” Moncada said to The Grayzone in April.
“They even dared to send their own vice president to announce the action,” Moncada noted. “Nobody [sends] that kind of high-level presence just to do nothing. They are going to do it. And we’re battling. Battling meaning campaigning. We are talking, persuading, convincing all the world [to support us], and we are right now pretty sure that they [the US] don’t have the numbers.”
The diplomatic campaign led by Moncada and his team in New York paid off. Six months later, the US and its allies were forced to take the walk of shame out of the UNGA hall, revealing themselves as representatives of a global minority.
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