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Experts deride external interference in Venezuela crisis

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-26 19:50

A citizen holds a Venezuelan flag at Bolivar Square in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan 25, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING - As tensions between the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido continue, officials and experts worldwide have voiced their concerns over the situation, appealing for dialogue while calling for the issue to be resolved without outside influence.

Alleging that the Maduro administration is illegitimate, Guaido, head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president during an anti-government rally Wednesday.

The United States, Brazil and some other countries have recognized Guaido's presidency, with US President Donald Trump warning that "all options are on the table." Maduro, in response, announced the severing of "diplomatic and political" ties with the United States.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all relevant actors to lower tensions and commit to dialogue to address the protracted crisis in Venezuela, after anti-government protests in the capital Caracas turned violent, said his spokesman on Thursday.

Endorsing Guterres' call for a dialogue, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, a former UN independent expert, termed the current unrest as an "attempted coup" and said his concern is to avoid a civil war.

"I mean, there are 7, 8, 9 million Venezuelans who are committed Chavistas, and you have to take them into account. What are you going to do with them if you topple the government through a coup d'etat? ... These people are most likely going to fight. Now, we don't want fighting. We don't want shedding of blood," said de Zayas in an interview with US news organization Democracy Now!

De Zayas also accused the US mainstream media of being "complicit in this attempted coup" and said recent reports reminded one of the run-up to the Iraq invasion in 2003.

"The mainstream media has prepared, through a conundrum of fake news, an atmosphere that the public should accept this regime change imposed by the United States on the people of Venezuela because, ultimately, it's supposed to be for the good of the Venezuelans," said de Zayas.

Alan MacLeod, member of the Glasgow Media Group of Britain, said US mainstream media have sided with Trump in promoting a coup in Venezuela and showcased a lapse of fact-checking in their reporting, according to MacLeod's article published on the website of US media criticism organization Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR).

Citing US Vice President Mike Pence's statement earlier this week that Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power and one who has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, MacLeod said the claim is not difficult to debunk yet "none of these organizations fact-checked this claim."

"Maduro won his first election in 2013, recognized by every country in the world except the US, and which even the Washington-funded organization the Carter Center declared free and fair," said MacLeod, according to FAIR.

Gabriel Hetland, assistant professor at the State University of New York at Albany, called for a broad-based, peaceful Venezuelan opposition that effectively welds together legitimate political demands and pressing social and economic demands in an opinion piece published in The Guardian.

Hetland said US military intervention should be firmly rejected because it would bring untold suffering to Venezuela.

Maduro said on Thursday he will close the country's embassy and consulates in the United States while Washington has ordered some US government employees to leave Venezuela.

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