(by Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com) – Bolstered by the support of a second permanent U.N. Security Council
member, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday took his campaign to
win a seat on the council to Malaysia. He faces strong opposition from
the United States.

During a six-day
visit to China, the populist leftist won Beijing’s backing for
Venezuela’s bid to be elected onto the 15-member council in October.
Russia earlier agreed to support Venezuela.

Washington is
adamantly opposed to the seat going to a country sympathetic to some of
America’s biggest foes, including Iran, North Korea and Cuba.

The nuclear
ambitions of Iran and North Korea in particular are expected to remain
high on the council’s agenda for the foreseeable future, and Caracas
earlier refused to support an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
resolution to send the Iranian nuclear issue to the top U.N. body.

U.N. regional groups put forward consensus candidates to hold the 10
non-permanent seats on the Security Council for two-year periods.

In this case,
however, two candidates — Venezuela and Guatemala — are vying for the
seat. Because the region has not submitted a single candidate, the
General Assembly will decide in a secret ballot vote, with the winner
requiring a two-thirds majority.

A fierce lobbying
campaign is underway, and the contest has shaped up into one between
the U.S. — which backs Guatemala and is urging its allies to do the
same — and countries critical of the Bush administration.

Latin American
and Caribbean nations have been lining up behind one of the two
contenders, with several yet to make their positions known.

Chilean lawmakers
last Tuesday voted for a measure urging their government not to support
Venezuela for the seat. A sponsor of the successful bill was quoted as
saying Venezuela had become “a source of division and conflict in the

It remains
unclear what decision President Michelle Bachelet will make. She said
it would be made “at the right time,” and be based on the interests of

Outside the
region, Chavez has been traveling widely, making new allies and shoring
up existing relationships with offers of oil deals, focusing largely on
countries that share some of his criticisms of U.S. foreign policy.

Malaysia, his latest stop, is expected to throw its support behind Venezuela’s bid.

Malaysia wields
considerable influence in the developing world, and currently chairs
the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned
Movement, whose members account for almost two-thirds of U.N.

Chavez was due to meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on Monday evening.

While wooing developing nations, Venezuela also is seeking the support of the Arab world.

Chavez says he
plans to visit Syria shortly, and the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry
reported that an envoy had submitted a presentation of its bid to the
22-member Arab League.

“We will go to
the Security Council as an independent-minded country, able to make our
own decisions,” it quoted envoy a presentation of its bid Venezuelan
Roy Chaderton Matos as telling the Arab governments.

“We are certain
that based on our beliefs, [we] will support our Arab fellows against
war and incursion of foreign countries, against poverty and religious
or state terrorism, and in favor of freedom, social justice and peace.”

Chavez has been
burnishing his credentials in the Arab world, and his recent decision
to withdraw Venezuela’s ambassador from Israel to protest the conflict
in Lebanon won praise in the region. He has also long voiced support
for anti-coalition elements in Iraq.

In China, he
again likened Israel’s war against Hizballah to the actions of the
Nazis, and said Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for genocide.

He also slammed the U.S. for opposing the U.N. effort.

“The U.S.
government has employed every means to block my country from joining
the Security Council,” he told reporters. “The American imperialists
are trying to stop us.”

Venezuela is the
world’s fifth largest petroleum exporter, and during his visit to
China, Chavez pledged to boost significantly oil supplies to the
energy-hungry communist giant.

The two governments also agreed to cooperate in joint projects to develop Venezuelan oil fields.

Wu Bangguo,
China’s top legislator, said after meeting with Chavez that Beijing
appreciated Venezuela’s support for China on issues including human
rights, Taiwan and Tibet.

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.


1. a) What is the purpose of the U.N. Security Council?
b) How many of the 192 U.N. member countries have seats on the Security Council?  List the countries.
c) How does a country get a seat on the Security Council?

2.  Which
countries currently support Venezuela’s bid to get a seat on the
Council?  For what reasons do they support Venezuela? (para. 11, 23-25)

3.  Which countries support the other candidate from the region – Guatemala?  Why? (para. 7, 9-10)

4.  What is Venezuelan President Chavez saying and doing to gain the support of Arab countries?

5.  Do you think that electing Venezuela to the Security Council will help the U.N. to further its purpose?  Explain your answer.

6.  How do you think Venezuela’s election would affect the U.S. and our allies?

NOTE: The money the U.S. gives to the U.N. for dues is approximately 22% of the total given by all 192 member countries.

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