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Venezuela lost its seat on the United Nations Council of Human Rights this week, a move hailed by human rights activists and Venezuelan opposition groups as a symbolic victory against the government of President Nicolás Maduro, CNN reported.
The South American country had held a seat in the 47-member body since 2019, despite facing accusations of crimes against humanity and the imprisonment of dissidents.
But during the vote, Venezuela finished third with 88 votes, trailing Chile and Costa Rica for the two spots reserved for Latin American countries. Chile received 144 votes, while Costa Rica received 134.
The Venezuelan government did not comment on the loss.
The council is tasked with promoting human rights and addressing abuses around the world but has come under fire for allowing countries with questionable human rights records – such as Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Russia – to participate. Russia was suspended from the council following its invasion of Ukraine in February.
Even so, many human rights advocates welcomed the vote, saying it sent a message to the Venezuelan government “to comply with their international responsibilities when it comes to human rights.”
Opposition groups in the country also supported the decision, noting that the lost seat meant criticism of Maduro’s regime had finally been heard.
Maduro’s government has become more globally isolated since 2019, when he won another six-year presidential term in an election generally regarded as a sham by the international community.
In an effort to mend its reputation, the government has allowed international bodies to probe alleged abuses.
Last month, the International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, established by the council in 2019, presented a report documenting alleged crimes against humanity, including acts of torture committed by Venezuelan security forces.
Still, it acknowledged the Venezuelan courts’ attempts to hold those responsible accountable.