Bolton Knocks Maduro’s Allies: ‘Last Time I Checked, North Korea Was Not a Beacon of Democracy’

By Patrick Goodenough | February 18, 2019 | 4:25am EST
Flanked by allies, the Maduro regimes’ foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, speaks to reporters at the United Nations on Thursday, February 14, 2019. (Screen capture: U.N. Webcast)

( – As the embattled Maduro regime in Venezuela gathers an alliance to resist what it portrays as a U.S.-led effort to topple it, National Security Advisor John Bolton took a dig at the quality of the governments choosing to side with it.

“Interesting to see [Nicolás] Maduro turning to the United Nations and governments notoriously accused of oppressing people and using corrupt practices for their own gain,” he tweeted. “Last time I checked, North Korea was not a beacon of democracy, and neither were China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, or Syria.”

Diplomats from those countries and several others joined Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, at the U.N. in New York on Thursday in a show of support for the socialist regime whose policies, critics say, have impoverished one of the hemisphere’s potentially most prosperous countries.

Among those who flanked Arreaza at the U.N. stakeout microphone were Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzya, the Assad regime’s representative, Bashar al-Jaafari, and he Palestinian permanent observer, Riyad Mansour.

Others present represented China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

“We are an important group of countries who are sure that the majority of the members of this organization share the same interests,” he said.

Arreaza read a statement listing principles of the U.N. Charter, including respect for other countries’ territorial integrity, and refraining from the use of force.

He said the group represented around him would take “joint action” in all U.N. forums, but said it would be a mistake to reveal the strategy in advance.

Juan Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly whom the U.S. and 50 other countries now recognize as interim president under Venezuela’s constitution, continues to call on the regime to allow entry of U.S. aid that is waiting on the Colombian side of the border.

The military has blocked the border crossing bridge, however.

Arreaza was dismissive of the U.S. offers of aid at the same time as it has imposed sanctions, saying the policy amounted to, “I’m killing you, and then I’m giving you a cookie.”

Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador, told reporters after Arreaza spoke that “humanitarian aid is being played as a tool in the political game.”

The Russian foreign ministry in recent days has charged that the U.S., with its aid convoy, is planning a “provocation, involving victims” that will provide a pretext for an armed invasion.

Mansour, the Palestinian delegate, told reporters that a meeting at the Venezuelan mission the previous evening had drawn representatives of about 50 countries.

If it wasn’t for the fact there were meetings on climate change currently underway, he said, the turnout at the stakeout microphone would have been considerably bigger than it was.

The countries that have joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaido as interim president include more than a dozen in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 30 in Europe – including Security Council permanent members France and Britain, and several others including Australia, Canada and Israel.)

Addressing the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence urged all of the E.U. “to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.”

“The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy. Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go,” he said. “Maduro’s socialism has shrunk their economy by nearly half. More than 9 out of 10 people live in poverty, in what was once one of the wealthiest countries in our hemisphere.”

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