US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Security Council meeting about the situation in Venezuela at the United Nations in New York on April 10, 2019 in New York City (Johannes EISELE)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday asked the United Nations to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, telling the Security Council: “Nicolas Maduro must go.”

Washington will present a draft UN resolution aimed at recognizing Guaido and appointing his representative as the ambassador to the world body, Pence told the council.

“The time has come for the United Nations to recognize interim president Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body,” Pence said.

The United States is among some 50 countries that recognize Guaido, the opposition leader who declared himself interim president in January, and consider Maduro to have lost legitimacy.

Maduro has maintained control with support from the military, Russia and China. Russia last month sent troops to Caracas, raising tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Pence argued that Maduro had brought “deprivation” to Venezuela and that without action, “chaos and suffering will only spread” to the region, already faced with an influx of millions of migrants.

– Another blackout –

Venezuela plunged into another major blackout on Wednesday leaving large parts of the country without power as Maduro met with the head of the Red Cross and agreed to receive international aid.

“We confirm our readiness to establish cooperation mechanisms for international assistance and support,” Maduro posted on Twitter after meeting ICRC president Peter Maurer.

Maduro has denied that his country faces a humanitarian crisis and blames US sanctions for Venezuela’s economic problems, but Guaido has pointed to corruption and mismanagement by the Caracas government for the crisis.

Pence described Venezuela as a “struggle between dictatorship and democracy” and declared that “Nicolas Maduro must go.”

“The United States of America will continue to expert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela but all options are on the table,” he added.

The Organization of American States on Tuesday recognized Guaido’s envoy, Gustavo Tarro, as Venezuela’s representative to the regional group.

After appealing for UN recognition for Guaido, Pence turned to Venezuela’s Ambassador Samuel Moncada who was seated in the council chamber and said: “With all due respect Mister Ambassador, you shouldn’t be here.”

He advised him to return to Caracas and convey the message to Maduro that “his time is up. It’s time for him to go.”

– Russia denounces regime change –

A draft resolution recognizing Guaido is likely to be vetoed by Russia if it is presented to the Security Council.

Addressing reporters outside the council chamber, Pence indicated the measure would be brought to the 193-nation General Assembly, where vetoes do not apply.

A bid by the United States to win support for elections failed at the Security Council in February, with Russia and China vetoing a US-drafted resolution.

In his address to the council, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denounced “an attempt to change the regime in Venezuela” and warned that “external players are a direct threat to Venezuela itself.”

The United States called the council meeting after a UN report detailed the heavy toll of the crisis from the collapse of Venezuela’s oil economy.

Seven million people — 25 percent of Venezuela’s population — are in need of humanitarian aid, lacking basic access to food and medical care, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the council.

Malnutrition rates have trebled over the past five years, particularly affecting children under five and power outages are worsening access to clean water, threatening a major spread of disease.

More than 3.4 million people have left the country — triggering a migrant crisis in neighboring countries, and that figure is expected to reach five million by the end of the year.

“There is a very real humanitarian problem in Venezuela,” said Lowcock who asked the council to support action to shore up the international aid response.

The United States has ramped up sanctions on Venezuela and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to travel to the border in Colombia on Sunday to highlight the plight of refugees.

Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.