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BRITISH diplomats thought it would be “ghastly” if Venezuela won a seat on the UN security council and plotted an “aggressive” campaign against its candidacy, it has emerged.
The sinister incident exposes Britain’s “long-standing” hostility towards Venezuela’s left-wing leaders, according to eminent historian Mark Curtis.
He unearthed the evidence while researching a WikiLeaks trove of US embassy cables.
The overblown comments were made over a decade ago, when Venezuela was still run by Hugo Chavez and the current President Nicolas Maduro was foreign minister.
The pair were pushing for Venezuela to gain a seat on the UN security council, with Mr Maduro openly “calling for an end to the unipolar world that has been so damaging.”
They made the move in 2006, in a daring bid to defy US power in the wake of the invasion of Iraq and Washington’s global “war on terror.”
Venezuela’s ambition for a seat at the UN’s top table seriously alarmed diplomats in both Britain and the US, which colluded to undermine the Chavez/Maduro campaign.
In a confidential telegram, senior British officials told their US allies that “the idea of Venezuela on the Council would be ‘ghastly’.”
They pleaded with Britain’s then foreign secretary, Labour MP Margaret Beckett, to adopt an “aggressive” attempt to support a rival candidate.
Britain and the US favoured Guatemala, which was run by a right-wing land owner.
By contrast Venezuela was enjoying a hugely popular left-wing presidency under Mr Chavez, who was seen as a beacon by progressive causes across the region.
To counter this spread of socialism and, at the request of the US State Department, Britain began to lobby at least four countries to vote for Guatemala at the UN election.
A week after the Anglo-US plan was hatched, Mr Chavez upped the stakes with a historic speech at the UN general assembly, where he called former US president George Bush “the Devil.”
He described the US as “the greatest threat looming over our planet” and said “the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination.
“And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.”
His anti-imperialist rhetoric on the rostrum alarmed Ms Beckett, who said: “That is not how the UN works.”
In the end, voting dragged on for weeks in one of the UN’s most closely fought contests, in which neither Venezuela nor Guatemala managed to win enough support.
Eventually both nations had to withdraw their candidacies and allow a compromise country, Panama, to take the seat instead.
Mr Curtis told the Morning Star the WikiLeaks cable was significant because it suggested that “US/UK co-ordination to counter governments in Venezuela which fail to obey Western instructions is long standing.
“Then as now, the UK is acting as the junior partner of the US, ensuring that Venezuela is only able to do what Washington requires.
“The UK continues to act as a high-profile lobbyist for the US.”
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign secretary Dr Francisco Dominguez warned: “All those elements within the British Establishment that were strongly pro-US in 2006 are now mounting the same campaign against Venezuela in conjunction with the current US administration.”
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