GENEVA - The United States is calling for international sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his allies to pressure the government to hold free and fair elections this year.
The United States agrees with Venezuelan activists and opposition leaders that nothing except free and fair elections will end the country’s political crisis. Congressional elections are supposed to take place by the end of the year, but so far, no date has been set.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Andrew Bremberg says for elections to be credible, they must be open to all parties and candidates, and the independent media must be allowed unrestricted access to cover the event. He is calling on international partners to support opposition leader Juan Guaido.
"We encourage partner nations to implement serious travel and financial sanctions against Maduro and his allies. We also ask our partners to call on Russia, Cuba and China to cease providing support to Maduro,” he said.
Several Venezuelan parliamentarians in exile and other activists have come to the United Nations in Geneva to raise awareness of the plight of the Venezuelan people and to garner U.N. support for free and fair elections.
Miguel Pizarro has been an elected member of Venezuela’s National Assembly since 2010. He was forced to flee the country to Italy last July after being convicted on false charges of conspiracy.
He says the U.N. is not toothless. He says it can effect change and already has done so. He notes the U.N. human rights council has succeeded in putting the spotlight on the situation of abuse that exists in Venezuela.
Pizarro says U.N. agencies have informed the world about the abysmal humanitarian conditions in the country, which have forced millions of people to flee as refugees. He tells VOA the United Nations has an important role to play both before and after an election.
“If we won an election in Venezuela, we will need observation, multilateral observation, because an election is not only because we know for sure, the day we are able to vote is the last day of the regime in the power. And that will need a lot of international support to achieve the transition because it will not be an easy peace,” he said.
Pizarro says he appreciates the important role played by the U.N. in regard to Venezuela’s humanitarian and refugee crisis. He says he would like to see the U.N. play a more active role in the political sphere.