BOGOTA, Colombia

Leaders of Latin America, the region worst-hit by the novel coronavirus, referred to their efforts to defeat the disease and its devastating economic consequences Tuesday during the UN’s first virtual meeting of heads of government as it marked its 75th anniversary.   

They also spoke on other topics such as biodiversity, climate change and important issues on their agendas.  

In his speech, Colombian President Ivan Duque seized the opportunity to express his opposition to the government of Venezuela headed by President Nicolas Maduro. Duque asked other countries to raise a voice of rejection to the “prefabricated” elections scheduled for December.

“We need to make a strong call to all the nations of the world to raise their voices demanding truly free elections and not the prefabricated electoral orchestra to which they intend to lead the Venezuelan people in the month of December, simply to perpetuate the dictatorship,” said Duque. 

A few hours earlier, President Maduro had invited the UN to monitor the upcoming national elections. 

“We have invited the secretary-general of the United Nations to send a technical commission to accompany the electoral process for a new parliament, a new national assembly on Dec. 6,” Maduro said in a recorded speech played at UN headquarters. 

In his first speech to the UN General Assembly, President Alberto Fernández said Argentina condemned terrorism “in all its expressions.”  

Fernandez recalled the attack on the headquarters of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which occurred 26 years ago and left 85 people dead and more than 300 injured, which Argentine investigators blamed on former senior Iranian government officials as well as the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. 

He called on the Iranian authorities to “cooperate with Argentine judicial authorities to advance the investigation.” 

“We also ask the international community to comply with the requests contained in the Interpol red alerts in the event of the presence of an accused individual in their territories, something that Argentina has never ceased to claim,” he added. 

The president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, meanwhile called for the end of the US economic blockade against Cuba. 

“In our America, we call attention to the economic blockade of Cuba, which affects its population. We reiterate that this situation must cease,” said Alvarado, who also drew attention to Venezuela. 

Alvarado said a “peaceful, expeditious and democratic solution” should come from the Venezuelans to solve “the political and humanitarian situation” the country is going through.

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