Venezuela teaches the empire a lesson at UN

On November 1, Venezuela and Guatemala announced they would both support Panama as the Latin American country to fill the vacant position on the United Nations Security Council, according to a November 2 article. The two nations had been competing for the seat, with Washington campaigning strongly for Guatemala, which has one of the worst human rights records in the region.

The US opposed Venezuela's bid for the seat because of the anti-imperialist policies advanced by the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez. As well as utilising Venezuela's oil wealth to tackle poverty and empower the poor, the Chavez government has urged Third World unity to challenge First World, especially US, domination. Venezuela campaigned for the seat by claiming it would use the position to challenge US domination of the UN and be a "voice for the South".

The position, which traditionally goes to a Latin American country, was vacated in October by Argentina. Panama was named as a compromise candidate after a long campaign involving 47 rounds of voting, during which neither Guatemala nor Venezuela secured the two-thirds majority required. With the exception of one round, where Venezuela and Guatemala tied with 93 votes each, Guatemala scored the highest number of votes, getting a maximum of 108 of the 128 necessary.

While the US government and media have attempted to present the result as a defeat for Venezuela and its attempt to challenge Washington, this ignores the intense campaign of pressure and blackmail carried out by the US in order try to get Guatemala elected.

The Venezuelan government, which refused to withdraw and hand the seat to Guatemala, has pointed out that a solid bloc of countries stood strong in the face of heavy US pressure and refused to change their votes and back Guatemala. Although it was a secret ballot, Venezuela's support clearly came overwhelmingly, if not entirely, from the Third World, with most Latin American countries, the Arab League and many African countries publicly stating their support for Venezuela.

Venezuela is claiming that, while it failed to win the seat, the US suffered a significant defeat by being unable to impose its candidate. Government spokesperson Roy Chaderton said the outcome "marks the start of a worldwide insurgence against the forceful diplomacy of US, which tries to impose its will on sovereign countries", according to Associated Press reported on October 22 that when it had become clear Guatemala had failed to secure the seat, Chavez told a demonstration of thousands of supporters: "We have taught the empire a lesson."