Venezuela runs for UN Council seat; U.S. opposed

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Armed with petrodollars, Venezuela has made a major push to defeat Guatemala in Monday's elections for five open U.N. Security Council seats.

    While Venezuela is expected to get a majority in secret balloting in the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly, Caracas may not achieve the required two-thirds vote, leaving open the possibility of a compromise candidate.

    "This is a real wrestling match. This is a heavy-weight encounter," said Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

    "If they vote with their head they're voting against Venezuela because, the United States is certainly going to make this an anti-Venezuela position," he said.

    "If they vote with their heart they are basically saying: 'we're tried of being pushing around by Washington and we're just going to go our own way on this,"' Birns said.

    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, up for reelection in December, has campaigned hard for the seat in 2007-2008, sending assistance to Latin American countries as well as contributing to food aid in Africa.

    And Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro left no doubt during a visit to the United Nations last month his government sees the race as one against the United States.

    "Our debate is not with Guatemala,"' Maduro told reporters. "Our debate is with Secretary of State of Condoleezza Rice. We are calling for an end to the unipolar world that has been so damaging."


    The Security Council has 15 seats, five permanent members with veto power -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and 10 nations serving for two-year terms, five of them elected each year.

    Venezuela and Guatemala are vying for the Latin American seat vacated by Argentina while Peru stays until the end of 2007 along with Congo Republic, Ghana, Qatar and Slovakia.

    The European seats are uncontested and will be filled by Belgium and Italy, who replace Denmark and Greece next year while South Africa replaces Tanzania.

    In the Asian Group, Indonesia and Nepal are vying for the seat vacated by Japan, with Jakarta expected to win.

    Still, the Venezuelan-Guatemala fight is the only hotly contested race. Russia, China, several Arab nations and many Africa countries are expected to support Venezuela while most European nations are tipped to back Guatemala.

    Within Latin America, nations have been divided, with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia expected to support Venezuela. Mexico, Columbia and most Central American nations have indicated support for Guatemala.

    Chile is an usual, case with the debate dividing the ruling coalition of Michelle Bachelet's government, which has not said how it will vote. Christian Democrats in the coalition have repeatedly urged Bachelet not to back Venezuela.

    Most of the decisions within the council are made by the permanent members but Venezuela could be a spoiler as Qatar, the only Arab council member, often is on Sudan. Policy statements need the support of all 15 members and a resolution has to have a minimum of nine votes and no veto for adoption.

    U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has been the U.S. position clear: "In 1990 and 1991, when Cuba was on the Security Council, it was extremely unhelpful and uncooperative at a time of great pressure,"' Bolton said in June, in reference to Cuba's vote against authorization of the first Gulf War.

    "Nobody expects anything like complete unanimity on our issues, but there's a difference between constructive discussion and unconstructive behavior," Bolton said.

    (Added reporting by Saul Hudson in Caracas, Esteban Israel and Anthony Boadle in Havana)
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