Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described comments made by US President Barack Obama’s nominee for envoy to the United Nations as “despicable”, and demanded an apology.
Yesterday Maduro criticised the nominee Samantha Power’s testimony to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. During the speech, Power called for a “contesting” of what she described as a “crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”
“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression?” Maduro responded on Venezuelan television.
“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,” he stated. His comments come in the wake of a Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman on 13 July for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
He also called for an “immediate correction by the US government”.
“And the U.S. government says they want to have good relations? What tremendous relations they want,” Maduro stated.
Following his victory in the 14 April presidential elections, Maduro called for closer relations with the US. In June, his foreign minister Elias Jaua met US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry described the meeting as the “beginning of a good, respectful relationship”.
After the talks, Jaua told Telesur that the Maduro administration is open to a more positive relationship “based on the premise of mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs and the proper treatment of disagreements”.
“If this is respected then we can move forward in relations with US,” Jaua stated. Today, Jaua announced that the government had issued a letter of protest to the US embassy in Caracas. According to Jaua, the letter asked if there is still “willingness” in Washington to improve relations, “as expressed by the Secretary of State John Kerry”.
Since then, Maduro has criticised the US for its pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden, to whom he has offered asylum.
Yesterday, he stated that Power’s comments were being applauded by the “fascist right” in Venezuela. Power’s speech also received positive feedback from a number of committee members, including some Republicans.
Along with calling for more “efficiency and a greater focus on promoting freedom”, Power stated that the UN needs US “leadership” and fairness.
“There cannot be one standard for one country and another standard for all others,” she stated, before criticising the General Assembly and Human Rights Council for passing “one-sided resolutions” against Israel.
“Just as I have done the last four years as President Obama’s UN adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she said.