After Ten Rounds, Venezuela and Guatemala Continue for UN Security Council

After ten rounds of voting today, there was still no outright winner between Venezuela and Guatemala in the contest to win the soon to be vacant seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

By Steven Mather - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas , October 16, 2006 (Venezuelanalysis.com)— After ten rounds of voting today, there was still no outright winner between Venezuela and Guatemala in the contest to win the soon to be vacant seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Guatemala clearly won the first ten rounds. In the first round Guatemala was clearly ahead with 109 to 76 votes. However, for a winner to be declared, a two-thirds majority is needed, of 125 out of 192 countries. By the sixth round Venezuela managed to catch up, tying the vote at 93 to 93. Then, the votes slowly fell back towards Guatemala again, so that by the tenth round the vote was 110 to 77.

The voting does not seem to be going well for Venezuela. Immediately prior to the first round of voting the Venezuelan Vice-President José Vicente Rangel said he felt optimistic and that, “We already won the first battle: the confrontation against the giant is an initial victory.” But he went on to talk of the pressures weaker nations had been put under by the US to vote for Guatemala instead of Venezuela.

In other signs that all was not going as it should for Venezuela its ambassador to the UN, Francisco Arías Cárdenas, also commented on US pressure but said that those that voted for Venezuela were making “votes of conscience” with the developing world. “We are not competing with a brother [Latin American] country. We are competing with the biggest power on the planet,” said Cardenas.

There is no immediate end in sight to the voting. It will continue until either one country withdraws or it becomes obvious to all that there is not going to be an outright winner between the two countries. Venezuela has said that it will not be withdrawing.

Appearing upbeat, the United States Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, seemed content at the way the vote was going, saying, “I think it is very clear there's a candidate with a strong predominant vote.” But he also acknowledged that it was not over yet. “This has just begun,” he said.

Despite all the optimism of the previous weeks in Venezuela and with Chávez touring the world to lobby the leaders of different countries, the fact that it is a secret ballot meant no-one could be sure how it would go. However, on Sunday, Chile publicly decided to abstain from the vote. The Venezuelan government was quietly optimistic they would vote in its favour, but left-right tensions in Chile seem to have caused its President, Michelle Bachelet, to not take sides.

Another theory as to why support for Venezuela has not been so high as expected came from Tanzanian Ambassador Augustine Mahiga. He said many countries didn’t like the speech Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made to the UN General Assembly, particularly the references to US President George W. Bush as the “Devil.” “Many people felt it was bad taste," he said.

However, it is not over yet and Venezuela does have support from another famous figure Chávez mentioned in his address to the UN. Noam Chomsky, intellectual and notorious critic of US foreign policy, has said in Chile today that anyone who supports Guatemala is supporting the “genocide, tortures and deaths that have occurred in that country.” He contrasted that with Venezuela, which “lives in a climate of total democracy.”

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