Venezuela won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Thursday.
With the votes of 105 out of193 United Nations member-states, the South American country will serve in the body from January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022.
The UNHRC is made up of 47 countries, divided into different regions, with new members elected every year for three-year terms and barred consecutive re-election. Alongside Venezuela, also elected to the council were Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Namibia, Japan, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, South Korea, Armenia, Poland, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands.
Brazil garnered 153 votes, while a bid from Costa Rica to block Venezuela from winning a seat at the UN body did not succeed, securing only 96 votes.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza hailed the election as a “historic” triumph of Venezuelan diplomacy.
“We dare call this election historic because we faced a ferocious campaign from the United States and its satellite governments,” he told reporters.
Arreaza went on to thank members of the Non-Aligned Movement for support, while pledging that Venezuela will defend peace and national sovereignty in the council.
For its part, the US State Department published a statement condemning that countries had voted in favor of Venezuela’s joining the UNHRC.
The State Department likewise pledged to continue supporting self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido’s “efforts to restore human rights and democracy in Venezuela.” The US withdrew from the UNHRC in 2018, citing alleged “bias” against Israel.
Guaido declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January and was immediately recognized by Washington.
In the ensuing months, the opposition leader has unsuccessfully tried to oust the Maduro government, including through a failed military putsch on April 30.
At the same time, the Trump administration has sought to isolate Venezuela diplomatically, pressuring allies to recognize Guaido and impose economic sanctions on Caracas. Fifty-two countries have followed the US lead in recognizing Guaido as head of state. However, most continue to deal with Maduro in practice and have so far refrained from unilateral economic measures.
Since August 2017, the Trump administration has imposed successive rounds of punitive sanctions, targeting strategic sectors of the Venezuelan economy. The sanctions program was upgraded to an embargo in August, forbidding all dealings with the Venezuelan government and state entities and threatening secondary sanctions against third party actors.
Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.