The United States called for an emergency meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council Jan. 26 to discuss the political situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela after President Donald J. Trump declared earlier in the week that President Nicholas Madura would not be recognized as the rightfully elected leader.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the U.N. to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has not been elected, as the interim leader.

“Now it is time for every nation to pick a side,” said Pompeo during his opening remarks. “No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro.”

South African delegate to the emergency session, Jerry Matjila, said, “South Africa stands against any attempt at undue constitutional change of government in Venezuela, warning that the Council must never be an instrument that validates such attempts.”

Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea told the gathering that the situation in Venezuela “is an internal matter and does not pose a threat to international peace and security.” He added, “The international community should not put fuel on the situation.”

He recalled the suffering caused by foreign interventions in the Middle East and Africa “only to change a regime and without any consideration of what could happen afterwards.”

H. Elizabeth Thompson of

Barbados, on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, while expressing grave concern about the plight of Venezuela’s people, called on external forces to refrain from destabilizing actions and underscored the need “to step back from the brink.”

“We reject any external force from interfering in Venezuela’s internal matters, as well as attempts by any political unit within the country to take power in a manner other than by the constitutional process,” Walter Alfonso Webson from Antigua and Barbuda told the meeting.

Webson, while not mentioning the U.S., said, “States should refrain from threats or use of force, as well as unilateral declarations of support for one party over another.”

While representatives from Africa and the Caribbean supported President Maduro at the Security Council, Black activists and their supporters representing The Black Alliance for Peace demonstrated in U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Durham, Miami, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Tallahassee, Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Protestors stated that the Trump administration “and its ultra-right allies in Latin America are carrying out an imperialist coup effort against the democratically elected government of Maduro.” The protestors’ statement added, “Trump has announced that all options are on the table, threatening military action.”

Protestors in New York City explained that the Bolivarian Revolution movement in Venezuela provided free heating oil to communities in the Bronx. Demonstrators gathered at the Cuban Mission and in Union Square in support of Maduro.

“There is a huge miscalculation by the Trump administration in Washington, D.C. and at the U.N.—around the world—in Latin America for who is willing to support their regime change posture,” said Sara Flounders, co-founder of the International Action Center. “What they really want to do is further increase the hardships on the ground and increase the sanctions, which would make the Venezuelan people suffer. Hopefully they would turn against Maduro. The U.S. wants to get their hands on the money they owe Maduro to use as a fund for the opposition.”

The longtime activist is referring to the $10 billion in Venezuelan assets frozen by Trump through sanctions. Creditors would be allowed to seize oil shipments or refining infrastructure in the U.S. and the Caribbean, according to financial analysts. “This is the same thing the U.S. has done in Iraq, Libya and Syria,” Flounders said.

Cuba’s representative to the U.N., Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, stressed that the U.S. is dusting off its old imperialist policies in Latin America, warning that the main threat to the region is bullying by the U.S. and its allies. She condemned in the strongest terms attempts to install a lackey government, cautioning that history will judge those who push for a coup d’état.

The Russian Federation delegate, Vasily Nebenzya, said, “Today’s meeting was called for a single purpose, to continue destabilizing the situation in Venezuela through external influence.” Voicing regrets that the Security Council is being drawn into such attempts, he declared, “Regime change is the favorite geopolitical game of the United States.”

Ajamu Baraka, international spokesman for the Black Alliance for Peace, in an email stressed, “We at the Black Alliance for Peace have always been clear that all peoples and countries have a right to determine their fates, regardless of whether we agree with their internal politics. As Black Internationalists, we say an assault on oppressed peoples anywhere is equivalent to an assault on ourselves.”

He continued, “We categorically reject the arrogant and white supremacist assumption that the United States—itself a capitalist dictatorship—should arbitrarily take the liberty to presume leadership and rationalize its intervention into any nation by invoking a flimsy, laughable and ostensible argument that it is supporting democracy and/or human rights.”