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On Venezuela US Bans Cuban Minister for Torture While UN Guterres Silent Censor of Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video CJR PFT Q&A

UN GATE, January 2 – When the foreign minister of Venezuela, or at least of Nicolas Maduro, Jorge Arreaza emerged from the 3 Sutton Place mansion where UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lives alone and met with him on February 11, Inner City Press asked Arreaza two questions. Video here. Now on January 2, with Guterres still silent while censor the Press now 548 days, this: "The Department is publicly designating Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (MINFAR), under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement, by command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights.  Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.   The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members.  In addition to the public designation of Leopoldo Cintra Frias, the Department is also publicly designating his children, Deborah Cintra Gonzalez and Leopoldo Cintra Gonzalez.  As Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, Cintra Frias bears responsibility for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela.  Alongside Maduro’s military and intelligence officers, MINFAR has been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torturing or subjecting Venezuelans to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment for their anti-Maduro stances.  Dismantling Venezuela’s democracy by terrifying Venezuelans into submission is the goal of MINFAR and the Cuban regime."

UNSG Guterres, meanwhile, has been out of New York City on a junket for three weeks, saying nothing on this - in fact, he used public money to con NYPD to restrict the Press which questions him, on March 22 on the sidewalk of 96th Street in Manhattan, here. #DumpGuterres.  On March 15 from DC, this Q&A: "The IDB has put out a statement already saying that Mr. Hausmann can begin as the representative there because enough – there have been sufficient votes cast.  What does this mean generally speaking for any kind of economic help for Venezuela?  Venezuela is in arrears to the IDB anyway.   And then also, the IMF has delayed a decision by the board, their board, to discuss or – a poll that would basically recognize Guaido, and as you know, the IMF is important as a seal of approval for other big institutions like the World Bank.  But what does this overall mean to – for lending or economic help?  MR ABRAMS:  I think most – the most important task that Professor Hausmann will be undertaking is to work with the IDB on the preparations for post-Maduro Venezuela.  He has personally done a lot of work on this.  We actually met yesterday.  And there are – there’s been really an enormous amount of work done over the last several years by Venezuelans and by others, and the IDB has clearly a leading role in the recuperation of the Venezuelan economy when we think of things like the electric sector, the energy sector, which are in bad shape.  So he will now be in a position officially to represent Venezuela in those IDB preparations, and that’s a lot better than doing it from a university.  He’ll be inside." And the UN, which bans the Press? Amid the events on the Venezuela - Colombia border on February 23, there was not a word from the UN. Inner City Press again biked by the mansion Guterres lives in - some of  the time - and found it empty: no security, no Mercedes, nothing. Periscope video here. Now late on March 11, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, "The United States will withdraw all remaining U.S. personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela this week.  Like the January 24 decision to withdraw all dependents and reduce embassy staff to a minimum, this decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy." Also on March 11, journalist Luis Carlos Diaz has been reported missing by the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa (SNTP). Professor Ezequiel Korin ‏ says "@LuisCarlos was singled out for his supposed role in the sabotage that caused the #VenezuelaBlackout by Chavismo's strongmam Diosdado Cabello, sanctioned in 2018 by the US Treasury Dept. for his role in state-aided narco-trafficking. #DóndeEstáLuisCarlos." What if anything will UN Secretary General Antonio Guterrs say? Back on March 6 when journalists including Cody Weddle and his colleague Carlos Camacho were detained in Venezuela Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a briefing they banned Inner City Press from attending claimed, "I have seen the press report; we are trying to get some details. As a matter of principle, I think, the Secretary-General very much supports the right of journalists to be able to do their work free of harassment and the response would be for every government around this world to ensure that journalists have a space in which to do their work." As to Guterres this is not true. He is a censor. On February 28, a draft U.S. UN Security Council resolution was vetoed by China and Russia (with South Africa also voting no, and abstentions by Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea). Then Russia's draft resolution failed with four in favor, seven against and four abstentions. More dysfunction at the UN. But how would Guterres have voted? Or is his main goal not getting vetoed for a second term of free travel to Lisbon? On March 11, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "we’re asking the same thing of India as we are of every country: Do not be the economic lifeline for the Maduro regime.  So we talked about – I certainly won’t characterize the conversations; they’re private conversations.  But I’m very confident – in the same way that India has been incredibly supportive of our efforts on Iran, I’m confident that they too understand the real threat to the Venezuelan people.  And so we had a good conversation around that.  And in terms of which other countries are hiding assets, I assure you that those countries will know.  But I’m not going to share that with you today because if I mention them here today, goodness knows how many of them will end up inside of Russia.  We do not want assets that are around the world taken and transferred to Russia, where they’ll be hidden in the very way that I described in my opening remarks today.  We have a handful of countries that are providing aid and comfort to the Maduro regime at enormous expense to the people of Venezuela, and we want to make sure that the resources – resources that the Venezuelan people are going to need after Maduro leaves – we want to make sure those resources are available for the Venezuelan people and not shipped off to Cuba or to Russia or to Iran." For a week banned Inner City Press has in writing asked Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric this question: "February 19-3: What is the SG's response to US Senator Marco Rubio's criticism that he is playing right into Maduro plans... 'When it comes to democracy & human rights UN increasingly worthless'?" Dujarric refused to answer, despite his on camera promise. Finally on February 26 he blathered a defense of the absent Guterres, adding that "we are not going to respond to every tweet." Dujarric blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. Meanwhile in Venezuela according to Univision, this: "Univision News Retweeted Daniel Coronell Attention: A @Univision team, headed by @jorgeramosnews, is being arbitrarily detained at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. They were interviewing @NicolasMaduro but he didn't like the questions. Their technical equipment was also confiscated." At 9 am on February 26, Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres, his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, USG Alison Smale and Dujarric: "February 26-4: On Venezuela and the the press freedom the SG spoke about in Geneva yesterday, what is his comment and action if any on the reported detention of Univision's Jorge Ramos by the authorities? AGAIN, immediately explain how it is legitimate to ban from enter into the UN the media that has been asking about these and other questions, with no hearing or appeal." No answer. Guterres, Smale and Dujarric banned Inner City Press from entering the UN to cover Arreaza's press conference, or anything else. Now House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) released the following statement on the deaths of two Venezuelan civilians attempting to deliver humanitarian aid across Venezuela’s southern border with Brazil: “I am deeply disturbed by reports on the deaths of two innocent Venezuelans at the hands of Nicolas Maduro’s military forces. I strongly condemn these cowardly and disgraceful acts and urge all military forces to refrain from using any sort of violence against their own people.  “The U.S. will not tolerate any form of oppression or acts of violence against the Venezuelan people and the murderers responsible, including Maduro, must be held accountable. I continue to stand with interim President Guaido and support his peaceful efforts to bring much needed humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela. The international community remains vigilant to ensure against human rights violations and protect the people of Venezuela.” The US State Department has issued this: "On February 22, the United States and its partners began pre-positioning additional humanitarian aid for Venezuelans in Boa Vista, Brazil in proximity to the Brazil-Venezuela border.  This life-saving humanitarian assistance is made up of 178 metric tons of locally-procured food supplies and is ready to be delivered to Venezuelans suffering from severe food shortages inside Venezuela.  This aid includes:  Food kits containing rice, beans, sugar, and salt to feed nearly 3,500 people for 10 days; and Additional rice to feed an estimated 6,100 people for one month. To save lives, this critical aid must be allowed to enter Venezuela.  The U.S. government is coordinating with governments in the region and our regional humanitarian partners to ensure that the systems are in place to transport this aid into Venezuela safely and efficiently and to reach Venezuelans.  The United States applauds Brazil for working in partnership with us to make this aid delivery possible, and for providing additional contributions of humanitarian assistance.  The United States remains committed to helping the people of Venezuela, and this assistance is not the first – and will not be the last – that the American people send to help those in need.  Since Fiscal Year 2017, the United States has provided more than $140 million – including nearly $97 million in humanitarian assistance and approximately $43 million in development and economic assistance – to support the generous efforts of countries in the region that are hosting the nearly 3.4 million people who have fled the chaos in Venezuela.  This includes more than $10.5 million in humanitarian aid to assist Venezuelans displaced to Brazil, particularly in the border state of Roraima, reinforcing the Government of Brazil’s emergency response efforts." Belatedly, Guterres has said, "The Secretary-General today met with H.E. Mr. Jorge Arreaza, Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They discussed the situation in Venezuela and in the region.     The Secretary-General urged the Venezuelan authorities not to use lethal force against demonstrators.     The Secretary-General said that the UN will continue to act in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, working with Venezuelan institutions, to assist people in need. " As much as Guterres tries to stack the deck, things may come apart for him, despite his cowardly remaining in the mansion to try to keep this job. Is this that the UN is about? Useless. Watch this site. On February 22 Pompeo's deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said, "Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met today in New York with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.  They discussed ongoing events in Venezuela, as well as the importance of parties in Yemen beginning redeployments in Hudaydah." This is the inverse of the spin of Guterres whose spokesman Stephane Dujarric afterward issued this: "In response to questions about the meeting between the Secretary-General and the United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the Spokesman said the following:     The Secretary-General and the Secretary of State discussed the situation in Yemen, in particular the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and the importance of the parties to begin phase 1 of the redeployment from Hudaydah. They also discussed the situation in Venezuela and the region.        Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General  New York, 21 February 2019." So did Pompeo ask Guterres why he stayed in his mansion and neglected to even go to the January 26 UN Security Council meeting about Venezuela? About his censorship? Guterres' goal seems to only be to get a second term at UNSG, by not angering Russia or China, or the US. But maybe the latter has happened, at least with regard to US Senator Marco Rubio, about whom Inner City Press asked Richard Haass on February 20, video here. Watch this site. On February 16, the US State Department has restricted Maduro's diplomats to within 25 miles of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, the same restriction imposed on those from Syria for example. Inner City Press tweeted photo here of order by Cliff Seagroves, Director (Acting) for the US Office of Foreign Missions. Back on February 11 Inner City Press asked Arreaza, first, did Guterres explain to him why he skipped the UN Security Council's urgent meeting on Venezuela on January 26? Arreaza said that the Security Council has not even come up his in nearly one hour meet with Guterres, who he called very positive. Inner City Press also asked if Arreaza while in the U.S. would be visiting the Federal Reserve, where Venezuela's accounts have been turned over to Juan Guaido. No, he said, there are other ways of dealing with that than the minster of foreign affairs. Now on February 12 US Senator Marco Rubio has directly criticized Guterres: "@antonioguterres playing right into #Maduro plans.  Fake @UN “negotiations” to divide opposition & buy time for protests to die down. Maduro will also want UN “experts” to blame #Venezuela crisis on sanctions.   When it comes to democracy & human rights UN increasingly worthless." On Cameroon that is definitely true -- Guterres has been in full cover up of slaughter mode, and has roughed up and banned the Press which asks. On Venezuela, Guterres' game has been to try to avoid the issue, staying in his/your mansion during the UNSC meeting, etc. Now he's been called out - this is just the beginning. At the February 12 press conference in the UN Guterres bans Inner City Press from, Arreaza said Guaido's first call is to Rubio. None of those let in by Guterres even asked about it...  On February 11, Guterres' spokes - / hatchet man Stephane Dujarric in response to "questions" from the correspondents he allows in and answers issued this: "In answer to questions asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Jorge Arreaza, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Spokesman said the following:     The Secretary-General reaffirmed that his offer of good offices to both parties remains available for serious negotiation to help the country out of the present standoff for the benefit of the people of Venezuela.     Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General  11 February 2019." We'll have more on this. When Inner City Press showed up at Guterres or rather the public's $15 million mansion on the corner of 57th Street there was a large black van in front. But later Arreaza came with flashing sirens. The UN Media Acccreditation and Liaison Unit did not even include this meeting in its Media Alert, but allowed in Telesur and a Japanese TV crew which asked Arreaza, Do you have any message for Japan? To this has Guterres sunk. Video here. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in the UN Security Council at 9 am on January 26 for a meeting on Venezuela, as was USUN charge d'affaires Jonathan Cohen. Inner City Press went to cover the meeting, although banned from any entry of the UN now for 222 days by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres amid questioning his conflicts of interest including on UN briber CEFC China Energy. At 8:50 am, Guterres' security remains in front of his / the public's $15 mansion on Sutton Place and 57th Street. While Guterres' Global Censor Alison Smale called the meeting "urgent," Guterres could not be bothered to be driven 15 blocks south to attend it. Vine video here. Now on February 11 Guterres is set to meet with Maduro's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza - in the same publicly funded UN mansion on Sutton Place and 57th Street Guterres stayed in on January 26, skipping the urgent UN Security Council meeting. Inner City Press which exclusively live-streamed Guterres skipping the meeting and refusing to answer why has since then repeated asked in writing, of Guterres, Amina J. Mohammed, Alison Smale, Farhan Haq and Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, why did Guterres skip the meeting? They never answered, despite telling UNSR David Kaye, Inner City Press on the public that they would answer such questions. Instead, in an ill-attended February 11 noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said he skipped it because he was going to Park East Synagogue that morning. But the meeting was at 9 am, and PES at 10:40 am. And diplomats like US Jonathan Cohen went to the Security Council then PES. We'll have more on this - including live-streaming as is our right from outside Guterres mis-used mansion. Back on January 26 once Inner City Press got to the gate, the meeting had still not begun. First there was a procedural vote whether to hold it - it passed with nine votes. China, Russia, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea voted no; Cote d'Ivoire and Indonesia abstained. Inner City Press filmed UNTV from a bus stop on First Avenue, Periscope video here, where a passer-by it asked if the UN could solve Venezuela just laughed. After Pompeo's speech - with Cohen behind him - Inner City Press headed north to a protest on 47th Street. Transit here, protest here. Then up to Sutton Place, where only at 10:35 am did Guterres finally leave his / your mansion, to long idling Mercedes. Inner City Press filmed it. It usually does not ask questions on Sutton Place, but this one called for it - "Why did you not go to the Venezuela meeting?" No answer. Video here, Vine here, January 28 question tweeted at UN Spokesperson here. But on January 29 Antonio "Charlemagne" Guterres rebuffed Guaido in a letter his spokesman Stephane "Expensive French Restaurant" Dujarric wouldn't even confirm, while banning Inner City Press for the 210th day: "The United Nations are ready to increase their activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development,” Guterres told Guaido in a letter dated Jan. 29 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday. “For that, the United Nations need, however, the consent and cooperation of the Government.”  Some reporting this didn't even mention that Guterres stayed in his mansion... Whatever Guterres' position, he should have gone. Full video here. The video was seemingly automatically de-monetized by YouTube. But to their credit, when Inner City Press appealed, YouTube on January 29 wrote back: "Hi InnerCity Press, Great news! After manually reviewing your video, we’ve determined that it is suitable for all advertisers:  "For Venezuela UNSC Meeting Guterres Does Not Attend As Banned Press Covers Protest and Vote" Thanks,  The YouTube team." The lawless UN of Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale, and spokes- / hatchman Stephane Dujarric, has no appeals process; these three and others did not answer Inner City Press' January 28 question on this, on Cameroon's arrest of an opposition figure and the UN itself killing two civilians in South Sudan. Guterres is killing the UN - softly. Now on January 29, this from UN State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino: "On January 25, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo certified the authority of Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaido to receive and control certain property in accounts of the Government of Venezuela or Central Bank of Venezuela held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other U.S. insured banks, in accordance with Section 25B of the Federal Reserve Act.  This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.  We call on other governments to recognize interim President Juan Guaido and take similar steps to protect Venezuela’s patrimony from further theft by Maduro’s corrupt regime." At 3 pm on January 28 this became public: "Today the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850 for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. PdVSA is a Venezuelan stateowned oil company and a primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency, to include U.S. dollars and Euros. “The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin." Afterward, US House Foreign Affairs Committee lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) released the following statement in response to the Administration’s announcement to roll out new U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.   “After years of mismanagement and plummeting production, the illegitimate Maduro regime can no longer be allowed to siphon off the proceeds of Petroleos de Venezuela at the expense of its citizens. Maduro’s socialist policies and systemic corruption have created a humanitarian crisis in which millions of people are suffering greatly. The United States and our allies must continue to use all tools necessary, including economic and diplomatic, until democracy is restored in Venezuela.  “I continue to stand with interim President Guaidó and the brave people of Venezuela. The Venezuelan military should stand with the people and help facilitate a peaceful transition of power. It’s time for the socialist nightmare of Nicolas Maduro to come to an end.” At the January 28 UN noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from, no one let in asked about Guterres' absence; spokesman Stephane Dujarric said they had only seen Guaido's letter "on Twitter" - a platform on which he blocks Inner City Press. Now this canned read-out: "On 28 January, the Secretary-General met with a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation headed by the Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Timothy Harris of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and comprised of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley; the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Labour of Grenada, Peter David: the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Irwin LaRocque; as well as the Permanent Representatives of CARICOM Member States.       The Secretary-General and the CARICOM leaders discussed the situation in Venezuela and its implications for the region.  The Secretary-General took note of CARICOM’s concerns and reiterated his offer of good offices to facilitate dialogue and negotiation between the parties.      New York, 28 January 2019." Here now is from Pompeo's (January 25) interview by Gustau Alegret of NTN24, Q:  Guaido said this morning that Maduro could have amnesty.  Do you think that he deserves this amnesty?  SECRETARY POMPEO:  We’ll have to see how things proceed with respect to it, and ultimately, this will be a decision for the Venezuelan people, right?  These – this is their country; this is their effort.  It was the Venezuelans who are in the streets.  It’s their process.  The United States is aiming to make sure that they get a chance to do so in safety and security, and we’ve now identified resources – $20 million – to provide humanitarian assistance, demonstrating once again that the United States is a real force for good for the Venezuelan people.  We intend to remain so.  QUESTION:  How are you going to canalize or channelize this 20 million in humanitarian help?  The government is under the control of Nicolas Maduro.  Juan Guaido is just the leader of the National Assembly, so far.  SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, he’s the interim president.  The United States recognizes him as such, and we will find a methodology by which to get this – these resources to the people who need them the most.  QUESTION:  Tomorrow there is a UN Security Council.  What do you expect from Russia and China in this council?  SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, we hope they’ll come to see that the right path forward is to reflect the will of the Venezuelan people and to recognize President Guaido as the interim – as the interim leader of that country.  It’s certainly not what they’ve chosen to do so far, but we expect every country to see that what’s best for the Venezuelan people, what the Venezuelan people have demanded, is the outcome that the United States has now acknowledged." On January 28 from Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, this: "Australia recognises and supports the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, in assuming the position of interim president, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution and until elections are held. Australia calls for a transition to democracy in Venezuela as soon as possible. Australia supported the Lima Group’s early call for Nicolas Maduro to refrain from assuming the presidency on 10 January, relayed through our non-resident Ambassador to Venezuela. We now urge all parties to work constructively towards a peaceful resolution of the situation, including a return to democracy, respect for the rule of law and upholding of human rights of the Venezuelan people." Earlier this: Venezuela's military attaché in Washington, Col. Jose Luis Silva Silva, said  he's breaking with Maduro and supporting Juan Guaido. And on January 27, Pompeo said this: "The United States accepted interim President Juan Guaido’s designation of Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as the Chargé d’Affaires of the Government of Venezuela to the United States on January 25.  Mr. Vecchio will have authority over diplomatic affairs in the United States on behalf of Venezuela.     After his accreditation, Mr. Vecchio met with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for interim President Guaido’s leadership of Venezuela.  The United States looks forward to working with Mr. Vecchio and other diplomatic staff as designated by interim President Guaido." The EU put out this on January 26: "Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, held in these hours a series of conversations regarding the latest developments in Venezuela and the work of the European Union and its partners for a peaceful and inclusive democratic solution to the benefit of all Venezuelans.   Federica Mogherini coordinated the EU position, reflected in the Declaration issued this afternoon on behalf of the 28 Member States, through contacts, among others, with the Spanish and the Italian Prime Ministers, Pedro Sanchez and Giuseppe Conte respectively, the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Stef Blok, and senior representatives of the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.   The High Representative also talked to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres" - what, spoke to an official who although living in a $15 million publicly funded mansion 15 blocks away didn't even bother to go to the meeting?..  I believe I have a similar right to continue this issue.
Responsible are Chef de Cabinet Viotti (who was called by the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press) and/or DSG Amina Mohammed. Or, pending that, please have the Mission bring me in to these meetings. The only written communication I have received from the UN is this letter from USG Smale, here." We'll have more on this.


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