The U.N. Security Council is set to hold a behind-closed-doors meeting Tuesday to discuss the current political situation in Venezuela for the first time since protests began in the South American nation over six weeks ago, heightening already sharp political tensions.
The United States, one of the five permanent members of the security council, reportedly called for Venezuela to be included on the agenda of an already-scheduled Security Council meeting, according to EFE. The discussion will take place in the form of private consultations and will be done behind closed doors.
The announcement comes as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro extended a nationwide state of economic emergency for 60 additional days in order to guarantee access to basic services and to allow the government to implement exceptional measures in the realm of economic production and food distribution.
From the beginning of April, Venezuela has seen opposing mobilizations bringing thousands of people to the streets both for and against the government. While mostly peaceful, opposition marches have at times spilled over into violence and clashes, which have caused damaged and been factors in the deaths of at least 44 people.
The Venezuelan opposition demands fresh elections and the removal from power of democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro, but at the same time rejected Maduro’s call for a national Constituent Assembly. Part of the opposition has said it won’t participate in the upcoming elections to select representatives to participate in the Constituent Assembly.
The government says the opposition have called for violent acts and accused them of trying to project an environment of ungovernability to seek support and for a foreign intervention and a coup.
Early this month, a U.S.-based solidarity group launched a campaign asking U.S. citizens to send an email to senators demanding they oppose Senate Bill S-1018, which would increase funding to opposition groups in Venezuela.
Since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela almost two decades ago under the leadership of the late President Hugo Chavez and his successor Maduro, the United States has funded right-wing opposition groups in an attempt to regain its lost political and economic hegemony in the oil-rich region.
According to a 2007 U.S. strategic document leaked by former CIA-whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Venezuela was seen as the main adversary of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. The country was listed as one of the top six “enduring targets for the NSA,” along with China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Russia.