Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called the United Nations human rights chief a US-backed puppet and a “tumor,” saying he has no right to criticize the way the Latin American country is managed.
Maduro censured UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein during a broadcast on state television on Friday, after the high-ranking official claimed human rights violations and “the erosion of democratic institutions” were happening in Venezuela.
“The high commissioner is a militant of the fascist Venezuelan right… He is a pawn of the State Department, who is embedded like a tumor in the human rights system,” Maduro said. “He is a person who has lost all credibility to opine about our country.”
Zeid also claimed that he had received reports of “hundreds of extra-judicial killings” during anti-government protests and security operations in the Latin American country over the past years.
Oil-rich Venezuela, once one of the wealthiest nations in the region, has been plagued by a growing economic crisis that includes hyperinflation, and food and medicine shortages.
Maduro says the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the United States are to blame for the acute economic crisis and that the right-wing opposition is incited by Washington to topple his socialist government, hobble the country’s economy, and plunder its oil wealth.
Last year, US President Donald Trump slapped bans on Maduro, labeling him “a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people.”
In mid-January, the European Union (EU) also decided to include some senior Venezuelan officials in its sanctions blacklist over their alleged role in rights abuses committed against opponents since a new wave of anti-government protests erupted in the country and led to over 120 deaths from both the government and opposition forces last year.
Maduro has registered his candidacy to run for or a second six-year term in the upcoming presidential poll, already marred by claims of voter fraud.
Last week, the Venezuelan government and a number of opposition parties reached an agreement to postpone the presidential election by less than a month from April 22 to May 20 and called on all contenders to respect the results of the election.