Venezuela U.N. diplo­mat cites ‘state ter­ror­ism’ in res­ig­na­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NA­TIONS — Venezue­lan diplo­mat Isa­ias Me­d­ina said he resigned be­cause of the sys­tem­atic per­se­cu­tion of civil­ians, “state ter­ror­ism” and vi­o­la­tions of the con­sti­tu­tion by Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s gov­ern­ment — and he said Maduro should re­sign too.

Me­d­ina, an in­ter­na­tional lawyer who was a min­is­ter coun­selor at Venezuela’s U.N. Mis­sion, said Thurs­day night that the past 100 days, which have left more than 15,000 peo­ple in­jured and over 100 dead, “made a huge im­pact on me.”

He said he de­cided to re­sign “based on prin­ci­ples” be­cause “it would be hyp­o­crit­i­cal to re­main here not rep­re­sent­ing what the val­ues of the U.N. Char­ter are.”

And he had a mes­sage for Maduro: “Leave the of­fice so that a new gov­ern­ment can take place and do their job.”

“This is a failed state,” Me­d­ina said. “This is a fugi­tive gov­ern­ment and a com­plete dic­ta­tor­ship. … Maduro does not have the right to be in that of­fice.”

Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s U.N. am­bas­sador, re­jected Me­d­ina’s re­marks and said the diplo­mat had been fired.

“I con­demn the con­duct of Isa­ias Me­d­ina. We have im­me­di­ately re­lieved him of his du­ties. He does not rep­re­sent us. He has acted in a dis­hon­est man­ner,” Ramirez said in one of two Thurs­day evening tweets on the mat­ter.

Me­d­ina said he worked as a lawyer, in­clud­ing in New York in the 1990s, and had been a diplo­mat for about two years and four months, al­most all that time at the United Na­tions.

He said he rep­re­sented Venezuela on the Gen­eral Assem­bly com­mit­tee deal­ing with le­gal mat­ters and was vice chair­man for Latin Amer­ica at last month’s first-ever U.N. con­fer­ence on pro­tect­ing the world’s oceans.

But “the vi­o­lence and ag­gres­sive re­pres­sion against stu­dents” was the fi­nal straw that led to his res­ig­na­tion, he said.

Me­d­ina said it was also “com­pletely in­co­her­ent” for Venezuela to be a mem­ber of the Geneva-based U.N. Hu­man Rights Coun­cil while vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights — and to be chair­man of the U.N.’s de­col­o­niza­tion body “while not even al­low­ing the self-de­ter­mi­na­tion of its own peo­ple.”

“The rule of law is so im­por­tant, and this is why we need to bring the rule of law back,” he said.

Me­d­ina said he wanted to wait un­til af­ter the oceans con­fer­ence, and af­ter he got a pass­port, to re­sign.

Get­ting a pass­port proved “very dif­fi­cult,” he said, but it was cru­cial be­cause he didn’t want to be­come state­less when he left his job.

Me­d­ina said he signed his res­ig­na­tion and re­leased a video on Thurs­day and then learned about Ramirez’s tweets say­ing he had been dis­missed.

“I re­spect his opin­ion, but it makes me laugh,” Me­d­ina said. “How can he fire me af­ter I re­sign? I guess it’s his choice. It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter to me.”

As for the fu­ture, he said he plans to “keep do­ing what I’m do­ing.”

“I’d like to raise more aware­ness of the sit­u­a­tion in my coun­try,” Me­d­ina said.

He said he’s been an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist for 30 years and is pres­i­dent of a non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion called we­, which fo­cuses on the health of the oceans and “chang­ing cli­mate change” — and he will con­tinue that work.

“I resigned my post. I’m free to come and go,” Me­d­ina said. “Now I have a pass­port and a [U.S.] tourist visa for 10 years. I’ve had it for a long time, so I can come in and out.”

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