UNITED NATIONS – Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump's threat of military action to resolve Venezuela's political crisis, saying Latin America successfully got rid of foreign intervention and this must be safeguarded.
The U.N. chief also implicitly criticized Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro for creating an all-powerful constitutional assembly that leaves the opposition powerless saying Latin America got rid of authoritarianism as well and this must be preserved.
Trump's remarks last week that he wouldn't rule out a "military option" for Venezuela shocked even allies in Latin America who thought the U.S. had turned its back on decades of big-stick diplomacy in the region.
Maduro has long accused the U.S. of plotting his overthrow and on Monday he asked the pro-government assembly to investigate the opposition for allegedly supporting Trump's remarks. He told a rally that Trump's comments were prompted by the failure of the opposition's campaign to oust him after months of destabilizing protests.
Guterres told reporters Wednesday that "it is very clear that Latin America has successfully struggled over the last decades to free itself from both foreign intervention and authoritarianism."
"This is a lesson that is very important, to make sure that this legacy is safeguarded — and namely in Venezuela, both aspects of it," he told reporters.
The secretary-general urged the government and the opposition to restart negotiations "because I believe the only solution is a political solution based on those negotiations."
Guterres said he strongly supports efforts by international facilitators and regional leaders to assist the Venezuelan government and the opposition in negotiating a solution.
"I've been in close contact with all of them," he said.