By Idriss Jazairy*
GENEVA, Feb 4 2019 (IPS) – The count down towards a tragic outcome in Venezuela has started. All outside powers express what they say is a shared concern for its peace-loving people that has the misfortune of sitting on what is maybe the largest oil reserves in the world. The problem is that geopolitics lead groups of foreign countries to express different, not to say opposed recipes as to how democracy can be restored and happiness pursued in Venezuela and want to make their own views prevail in this divided country.
Divided the country has been indeed for quite some time. Of course circumstances have not been clement, both political and economic, what with institutional breakdown, the collapse in oil prices and the increasingly stiflling unilateral sanctions which have targeted Caracas.
But governance has also been found badly wanting, in a context of increasing violence on all sides. Incidentally, recent debates seem to imply there are three sides to the domestic dispute and forget the fourth, the millions of Chavistas themselves who can only be ignored at the peril of peace.
When stakes and passions are high, it’s hard for independent well-wishers to find Ariadne’s threat to safety. Of course, states are not entitled in international law to inflict unilateral sanctions to bring about regime change in other states.
Change must be the outcome of an internal process and preferably a peaceful one. The UN Secretary General has offered to facilitate such a process. Let not sabre-rattling dim this voice of wisdom. Let the international community forget about its polemics.
Yes the socio-economic situation in Venezuela is in shambles but let’s not make it worse by seeking an outright win like in a boxing match. True the use of overwhelming military power may achieve knock-out. But then pile up, as has been the case in Iraq, Syria or Libya, low-level conflict …and durable high level agony.
I appeal to all outside powers to give peace a chance by showing statesmanship at the Security Council through unanimously providing the Secretary General with this body’s full backing in the pursuit of the mission he expressed readiness to undertake to facilitate the internal change process. It may look less radical in the short term but it will spare lives and livelihoods in the medium term.
My appeal may be inspired by wishful thinking. It may already be a case of « Alea jacta ». It’s a familiar case. We’ve all seen it happen before.
*Idriss Jazairy Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the Adverse Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures. Idriss Jazairy is quoted in a New York Times article titled “Venezuela’s Guaido Courts Russia; Powers Divided on Maduro”