Caracas, October 29, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela was re-elected to a second consecutive term on the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) with the backing of 131 countries on Wednesday. The South American nation will serve on the 47-member inter-governmental human rights body until 2018 alongside Ecuador and Panama.
In addition to backing from its fellow UN member states, Venezuela also received firm support in its reelection bid from 100 civil society groups from diverse countries across the globe, including Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina, Switzerland, Germany, Kurdistan, Chile, Palestine, Colombia, France, as well as Venezuela.
“In the last 15 years, with the adoption of the Bolivarian Constitution, Venezuela has been exemplary in its advances in the promotion and protection of human rights,” read a public statement signed by the grassroots organizations.
Venezuela’s accomplishments, the groups noted, include dramatically reducing poverty, guaranteeing access to healthcare as a social right for all, maintaining social spending at approximately 60% of GDP, among other advances.
“We consider that the re-election of Venezuela to the UNHRC is a guarantee for […] the defense of human rights of all peoples as well as a voice for the victims of war and the oppressed,” the statement concluded.
Venezuela’s re-election to the human rights organ was claimed as a victory by its UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez who emphasized that the Bolivarian nation prevailed in spite of what he termed a media campaign “full of lies directed by the United States” and aimed at tarnishing the South American country’s human rights record.
Nonetheless, not all countries were pleased with the re-election decision, namely staunch US-ally Israel whose government has virulently opposed Caracas’s championing of Palestinian rights internationally.
Following the vote, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon lashed out at Venezuela and the UNHRC, accusing the latter of practicing double standards in criticizing Israel while supposedly turning a blind eye to what he alleged to be violations of political and press freedoms by the Venezuelan government.
Speaking during a press conference, Ramirez hit back at his Israeli counterpart, denouncing Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands, which has been repeatedly condemned in binding UN Security Council resolutions, notwithstanding 41 vetoes by the United States.
“Really, I believe Israel has a lot of things to review [in its own human rights record], their behavior against the Palestinian people…thousands of [Palestinian] children in Israeli jails and now this violence in Jerusalem,” he stated, referring to the ongoing Israeli crackdown on Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories that has left 65 Palestinians dead since the beginning of October.
In defending his country’s human rights record, Ramirez took aim at the United States, which has been accused of sponsoring repeated destabilization efforts against the Bolivarian government, including a 2002 coup that temporarily ousted then President Hugo Chávez and led to massive human rights violations.
“In my country there is no death penalty, there is nothing similar to what we see in Guantanamo, we repudiate torture … Our army has never left our borders to attack, only Simon Bolivar led an army out of Venezuela and it was to liberate countries [from Spanish colonialism],” the UN ambassador asserted, referencing the US military’s infamous torture facility located on illegally-occupied Cuban territory.
The re-election decision came one day after 24th annual UN General Assembly vote on the Cuban embargo, in which 191 of 193 countries- with the exception of the US and Israel- voted in favor of a non-binding resolution calling for an end to the illegal 55-year US blockade of the island.