Diplomats walk out as Venezuela hits US in UN speech

Several dozen diplomats walked out from the UN General Assembly Wednesday to protest a speech by Venezuela’s foreign minister, who denounced US calls on the world body to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took the General Assembly rostrum in the name of the Non-Aligned Movement as part of a special UN session devoted to the value of multilateralism.

Walking out were between 30 and 40 diplomats from the Lima Group, the coalition of Latin American nations and Canada that have nearly all recognized Guaido and declared the leftist Nicolas Maduro to be illegitimate after widely criticised elections.

In his speech, Arreaza accused the United States of wanting to “impose a dictatorship” at the United Nations through its “blatant attempt to expel or withdraw recognition of the credentials of member-states with full rights such as Venezuela.”

“This is discriminatory and unacceptable,” he told the session, in which the United States was not participating.

US Vice President Mike Pence traveled earlier this month to the United Nations where he denounced Maduro as a “dictator,” part of a US push for the world body to recognize Guaido instead.

Venezuela is facing the worst crisis in its modern history with inflation expecting to soar a mind-boggling 10 million per cent this year, contributing to a shortage of basic goods that has caused more than 2.7 million people to flee since 2015, according to the United Nations.