CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela on Thursday celebrated its new seat on the United Nations' most powerful body as a global ratification of the country's socialist revolution.
A jubilant President Nicolas Maduro appeared on television and led his Cabinet in an extended round of applause shortly after Venezuela won a temporary place on the U.N. Security Council.
The country ran unopposed for the slot allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, but still needed approval from the U.N. General Assembly to claim the long-sought diplomatic trophy.
Late President Hugo Chavez tried for one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the council in 2006, but the U.S. succeeded in torpedoing his campaign. The fight played out over dozens of rounds of deadlocked voting. The display of disunity prompted the region's countries to start alternating the seat on a rotating basis, and this year it was Venezuela's turn.
The U.S. decided to stay out of the contest, but did condemn the selection after the fact.
"Unfortunately, Venezuela's conduct at the U.N. has run counter to the spirit of the U.N. Charter, and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter's letter," U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said in a statement shortly after the vote.
Diplomats from some other countries neglected to mention Venezuela in their well-wishes. The oil-exporting nation has taken aggressive stances against the foreign policy of the U.S. and its allies, and it backs countries on bad terms with Washington, including Russia, Iran and Syria.
Maduro said the win showed the support the international community has for Chavez's vision.
"The entire world, regardless of their ideology, knows what's happening in Venezuela," he said.
The victory comes on the heels of a report from another U.N. body condemning Venezuela for taking political prisoners during a crackdown on anti-government street protests this spring. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions called on Venezuela to immediately release opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed since February for his role in the demonstrations.
Last week, Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez rejected the group's findings as an attempt to interfere with Venezuelan sovereignty.
One thing was notably absent from the celebrations in Caracas — the fiery anti-American rhetoric famously deployed by Chavez, who once called President George W. Bush the "devil" during a speech at the U.N.
Venezuela will join the council on Jan. 1 and serve for two years, aided in part by Chavez's daughter, who was recently named part of the Venezuelan mission to the U.N.
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