VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM | December 06, 2017
Independent UN expert Alfred de Zayas visited Venezuela in late November. (Twitter/AlfredDeZayas)
An independent United Nations expert has publicly stated that Venezuela is not suffering from a humanitarian crisis following a recent trip to the country.
Alfred De Zayas, an independent expert on International Democratic and Equitable Order at the United Nations (UN), visited Venezuela in late November to assess its social and economic progress.
On arriving back in Geneva Tuesday, the UN official told press that he did not think the country’s current economic problems had given way to a humanitarian crisis.
“I agree with the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] and CEPAL [Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean] that the so-called humanitarian crisis does not exist in Venezuela, although there are shortages, scarcity, and distribution delays, etc.” he said.
“What is important is to get to know the causes and take measures against contraband, monopolies, hoarding, corruption, manipulation of the currency and the distortions in the economy caused by an economic and financial war which includes [the effects of international] sanctions and pressure,” he added.
Venezuela’s opposition and private media have often alleged that the country is suffering from a humanitarian crisis in a bid to promote international intervention from foreign governments and agencies such as the UN. Opposition leaders have made the “opening of a humanitarian channel” to allow more food and medicine imports into the country one of their chief demands in negotiations with the national government, which began on December 1.
However, according to De Zayas, international solidarity is what is needed to help Venezuela overcome the current crisis. He also said that mainstream media coverage of the country is often “theatrical” and “does not help to resolve the problems” that the country faces.
During his visit, De Zayas met with government representatives, including Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, as well as with opposition leaders and civil society organizations. He also accompanied the initial talks held between the government and opposition in the Dominican Republic on December 1-2.
The UN expert said he would formulate a series of constructive recommendations to address Venezuela’s crisis and present them as a report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018. He has now departed to Ecuador, where he will be carrying out a similar visit.
Venezuela’s economy has been severely hit by the decline in global oil prices since 2014, directly impacting on the state’s ability to import the same quantity of food and medicine as in previous years.
The Trump administration imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela in August, prohibiting US financial agencies from negotiating debt relief with the beleaguered country. Canada has also passed sanctions against individual government officials.