February 27, 2019 / 11:11 AM / 8 months ago

Colombia calls at U.N. for action on Venezuela crisis

GENEVA (Reuters) - Colombia called on Wednesday for action to end Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis and bring about a political transition leading to free elections.

Francisco Barbosa Delgado, human rights counselor to Colombian President Ivan Duque, was addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council hours in Geneva before Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was due to take the floor.

Some European and Latin American ambassadors were expected to boycott Arreaza’s speech, as more countries back opposition leader Juan Guaido and spurn President Nicolas Maduro, diplomats said.

“Action and solidarity should be based on full rejection of dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela,” Barbosa told the meeting.

“Last weekend, the world saw directly that the terror regime, whose main characteristic is violation of human rights, burned food and medicine being sent to hungry, famished people in Venezuela,” he said.

Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, slipped into neighboring Colombia last week to lead an abortive effort to bring in humanitarian aid. He is expected to slip back across the border in coming days.

“In the face of such situations, we cannot remain silent,” Barbosa said.

“What is needed are actions that promote transition and the holding of free, transparent elections with international monitoring in order to guarantee as soon as possible the establishment of democracy in Venezuela.”

Maduro denies that there is a crisis, despite overseeing a hyperinflationary economic meltdown that has spawned widespread food and medicine shortages.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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