UN Human Rights Commissioner Meets Venezuelan Ministers

Michele Bachelet meeting Venezuela's Ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz
Michele Bachelet meeting Venezuela’s Ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz | Photo: Twitter Venezula Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The OHCHR visit comes as  Venezuela increases its engagement with international bodies.

June 20 (teleSUR) U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet met with senior members of Venezuela’s Bolivarian government as part of her official visit that began Wednesday, following an invitation from President Nicolas Maduro.

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On Wednesday evening Bachelet held a meeting with Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza, who explained how the government hopes to draw Bachelet’s attention to the crippling effects of United States (U.S.) sanctions, something they consider it to be a serious violation of the country’s human rights.

“We analyzed the impact of the illegal blockade of the U.S. government against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a financial, commercial and oil blockade that damages our fundamental industry,” Arreaza stated. A recent report by the Centre for Economic Policy Research showed that 40,000 Venezuelans have died as a result of the economic damage wrought by U.S. economic war.

The foreign affairs minister also explained the country’s mechanisms for social protection and defense of human rights to the high commissioner, characterizing the Venezuelan approach as “a model that is anti-neoliberal, anti-privatization and which always places human beings first.”

Nevertheless, Arreaza said the government would await any recommendations from Bachelet and would be open to suggestions for reforms and changes.

As Bachelet’s visit continues on Thursday, the U.N. representative met with Ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

In a press conference following the meeting, Ruiz said that during the meeting he had formally asked the OHCHR to intervene on Venezuela’s behalf to help unblock the US$5 billion of Venezuela’s public funds in foreign banks that have been illegally seized.

The Venezuelan government has explained on many occasions that these funds could be used for buying medicines and food, yet have been wrongly seized due to U.S. sanctions. One of the largest of Venezuela’s withheld deposits is the US$1.4 billion of gold reserves held in the Bank of England.  

The OHCHR visit comes as  Venezuela increases its engagement with international bodies.

President Maduro’s government has recently embarked on projects partnered with the U.N. and the International Red Cross, as well as the governments of China and Russia to deliver humanitarian aid to a people under economic siege. The most recent aid delivery was in coordination with the Red Cross who delivered 24 tons of medicine and medical equipment.  

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