Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro poses for pictures before meeting the European Union (EU)’s special adviser for Venezuela Enrique Iglesias at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has slammed the latest United Nations report on the country’s human rights situation as full of “lies.”
Speaking in a press conference at the Miraflores presidential palace on Monday, Maduro further dismissed the UN document as “just another report” dictated by the US State Department, noting that it was drafted by people who were enemies of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution.
The Venezuelan president also said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet — who prepared the report — had “made a wrong call.”
He said Washington’s hawkish Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams had exerted “personal pressure on Bachelet,” adding that Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry had called for the “rectification of lies, falsehoods, and manipulations” in the report.
Maduro said he would forward a personal note to Bachelet — who will publish her report in Geneva within 48 hours — in which he would expose “several truths about the history of Latin America” and would ask her not to turn to “fascism, oligarchy, and interventionism.”
He said he had welcomed the former Chilean president “with goodwill” but stressed that she had refused to listen to or see the reality of the Central American country.
The report alleges that Maduro’s government and its affiliated institutions have set in place a strategy “focused on neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing the political opposition and those who criticize the government” since 2016.
The UN says the report was prepared with 500 interviews conducted in Venezuela and in eight other countries with alleged witnesses to human rights violations between January 2018 and May 2019.
Venezuela plunged into political crisis in January when the US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido — who heads Venezuela’s now-defunct National Assembly — abruptly proclaimed himself “interim president.” The elected government of Maduro rejected that self-proclamation. It has nevertheless been negotiating with Guaido’s representatives to resolve the political crisis in the country.
On Monday, Maduro expressed optimism about renewed negotiations with the opposition.
Delegations from the Venezuelan government and opposition resumed talks in Barbados on Monday after a previous round in Norway collapsed without a deal.
Guaido orchestrated a failed coup against the government on April 30 with backing from the US. Maduro’s government, however, has not proceeded to arrest Guaido despite the coup attempt.