|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Venezuela’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations
on United States Expanded Military Presence in Colombia
Expressing anger at the United States Government’s expanded presence at seven military bases in Colombia, the Venezuelan Government had asked the Security Council to place an examination of Colombia’s armed conflict on its work agenda, its Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jorge Valero Briceño, told correspondents today at a Headquarters press conference.
Ambassador Valero said his Government had made that request in a note delivered today to the presidents of both the Security Council and the General Assembly. The letter was from the Venezuelan Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, Nicolas Maduro.
Security Council Resolution 1894, of 11 November 2009, allows for the Council to consider the grave situation created by Colombia’s armed conflict and the implications for regional and international peace and security, he said, adding that the United States’ presence aggravated an ongoing armed conflict that had started nearly 50 years ago and had led to a systemic, flagrant and widespread violation of human rights.
“The internal armed conflict in Colombia has claimed more than 100,000 lives and millions have been displaced. Venezuela has been the country worst hit by the deepening of this human crisis,” said Mr. Valero, adding that Venezuela had absorbed about 4 million displaced persons and refugees from Colombia and suffered systemic violence arising from drug trafficking paramilitary activities, kidnappings and hired killers.
He referred to the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Colombia (document S/2009/434), issued in August 2009, which warned that the situation in Colombia was one of the most serious, since the country had the second-largest internally displaced population in the world. According to the Presidential Advisor of Colombia for Social Action, nearly 3 million people had been displaced between 1997 and 2008, including more than 1 million children.
Venezuela aimed to keep monitoring the armed conflict in Colombia and the risks associated with the “installation of seven U.S. military bases on its soil,” he said. “Peace and security in Venezuela and in the region are endangered.”
Referring to the Colombian Government’s claim that Venezuela had downed two alleged border pedestrian bridges, he said that Venezuela had removed two gateways used primarily for illegal drug trafficking, smuggling oil and other illicit activities. Those were not bi-national bridges, and the gateways had been demolished on the Venezuelan side without violating Colombian territory.
“Our Government rejects these baseless accusations that do nothing but divert attention from the installation of these seven military bases, thereby transforming Colombia into a country subjected to a foreign Power,” he said. The seven foreign military bases installed in Colombia were meant to project the United States’ global power and use the threat of military intervention to deter countries that maintain a critical position in relation to their “imperialist policies”.
In response to several questions about what specific action he hoped the Security Council might take, Mr. Valero said it was necessary to stop the “installation of Yankee military bases”. The United States’ presence would permit that country to have permanent military staff, contractors and mercenaries in Colombia, such as it had in Iraq. The United States would also be able to use Colombia’s airports, naval bases and to plan crimes against the people without answering to Venezuelan authorities. It turns Colombia into a “foreign territory”, absent sovereignty. The military accord would also let the United States Government gain access to Colombia’s natural resources, such as oil, biodiversity and the Amazon, the Panama Canal, and let it gather intelligence in the area.
He said that in meetings with the presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly, he had asked that the note from his Government be circulated as an official document to all Member States. The Council president said he would issue the document as soon as it was translated into the official languages. Venezuela had supplied English and Spanish text.
Venezuela felt that the problem of Colombia’s internally displaced persons should be reviewed as a problem that went beyond the country’s borders, and one which caused Venezuela to suffer the consequences. He hoped the conflict would be solved through political dialogue and that the issue would be examined by the Council. The idea was backed by Council resolution 1894, which states that attacks against civilians were a threat to international peace and security.
To another question, he said that the deployment of the military bases showed that the military expansionism of the United States continued, despite the change in United States’ Administrations, which were still influenced by conservatives. He noted that the United States retained the same Minister of Defence. He asked United States President Barack Obama to “suspend the seven military bases”.
In response to a question about how the United States veto power would likely block any Council action, he said the Governments of South America had shown increasing concern about Colombia’s internal conflict, as demonstrated at a meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in Bariloche, Argentina on 28 August. He hoped that the issue would be reviewed at an upcoming meeting of UNASUR Defence and Foreign Ministers this weekend and that an initiative would be taken.
* *** *For information media • not an official record