KATHMANDU, July 17: The United States should not be vexed with the Venezuelan team’s presence in Nepal, said ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker and Central Committee member Balaram Banskota.
A 15-member Venezuelan youth delegation including Nicolas Ernesto Maudro Guerra, the son of the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, arrived in Nepal Saturday on a four-day visit.
Head of the Corps of Special Inspectors of the Presidency and a member of the National Constituent Assembly, the 29-year-old Maudro and his team were hosted by Youth Association of Nepal, the sister organization of the ruling party NCP—courting more controversy five months after Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s controversial statement supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro had rocked Nepal-US diplomatic ties.
After the US decided to give recognition to Juan Guaido—who on January 23 proclaimed himself as the interim president setting up a tense standoff with current president Maduro– as the leader of Venezuela, Dahal on February had issued a statement denouncing the US move as “unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of imperialist coup’.
The controversial statement had prompted the US to seek clarification whether Dahal’s statement was the official position of the Nepal government.
Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to distance itself from Dahal saying “the internal political problems of Venezuela need to be resolved within its constitutional parameters in a democratic manner, free from external interference”, the MoFA’s statement had failed to impress the US, who had described the statement as continuation of Dahal’s previous statement saying it failed to clear any air of confusions.
“A team of Youth Association of Nepal had visited Venezuela a month ago. They invited the Venezuelan youth team to Nepal. So they came to Nepal. It is a part of youth exchange program. It’s a reciprocal visit,” clarified Baskota during a television interview Janata Janna Chahanchan.
When asked hasn’t the Venezuelan youth team’s visit to Nepal severed the already controversial diplomatic ties between the US and Nepal, Banskota said, “The US should not get annoyed over the Venezuelan team’s presence in Nepal. The US believes in democracy and interaction. Thus, I don’t see any reason for the US to get frustrated.”
“This visit should not sever the US-Nepal diplomatic ties,” he said.
“Moreover, junior Maudro visited Nepal as a leader of the youth delegation not as the son of Venezuelan President Maudro.”
The visiting delegation had held meetings with senior leaders of ruling party including Dahal, Party Secretariat Members Babdev Gautam, Narayan Kaji Shrestha and former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal.
The visit was also described as an attempt of the Venezuelan leader to broaden his alliances against the US.
But Banskota, who was among those present at the meeting with the Venezuelan youth delegation, described it as a normal activity.
“Leaders meet the visiting delegation and discuss the organization. It’s a normal process”.
Co-Coordinator of the party’s Peasants Federation Chitra Bahadur Shrestha, former agriculture minister Hari Parajuli and senior leader Keshav Lal Shrestha had also attended the meeting. The youth delegation had also held a separate meeting with NCP lawmakers in the parliament.
According to reports, only Dahal and Gautam close leaders including YAN Coordinator Ram Prasad Sapkota had held meeting with the youth delegation.
But, no representative of the government had visited the Venezuelan youth delegation. According to sources close to prime minister the meeting was organized without the knowledge of the government.
“It is because the government did not approach the delegation for the visit,” said Banskota.
“Perhaps the prime minister and ministers had not arranged a schedule to meet the delegation.”
Maduro has been described as a “dictator” and a report of an Organization of American States has determined that crimes against humanity have been committed during his presidency. Amid widespread criticisms, Maduro was sworn in as President in January. But National Assembly President, Guaidó was declared the interim president by that body on 23 January give rise to a presidential dispute. Guaido is backed by the US and most of Western Europe.
Maduro allies including China, Cuba, Russia, Iran, and Turkey support and denounce what they call interference in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
Maduro’s government states that the crisis is a “coup d’état led by the US to topple him and control the country’s oil reserves. But Guaidó denies the coup allegations, saying peaceful volunteers back his movement.