June 14, 2019 / 3:09 PM / 3 months ago

U.N. rights boss Bachelet to meet Maduro, Guaido in Venezuela: U.N.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet holds a news conference at Centro Cultural Espana in downtown Mexico City, Mexico April 9, 2019 REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Files

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet will visit Venezuela from June 19-21 and hold separate talks with both President Nicolas Maduro and his arch foe, National Assembly chief Juan Guaido, a statement said.

Guaido is the opposition leader who has proclaimed himself interim president in a political and economic crisis.

Bachelet, in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March, said Venezuelan security forces, backed by pro-government militias, had quashed peaceful protests with excessive use of force, killings and torture.

Her visit, at government invitation, comes ahead of the U.N. Human Rights Council opening a three-week session on June 24. Western states are expected to criticise Maduro’s government for alleged excessive use of force and mismanagement that has led to chronic shortages of food and medicine.

“Bachelet will engage with victims of human rights violations and abuses and with their relatives. She will also interact with civil society representatives, members of the business community and trade unions, religious leaders and academics,” her office’s statement said.

Maduro, a socialist who says he is the victim of an attempted U.S.-led coup, retains the support of the armed forces and control of state functions.

The OPEC nation’s economic meltdown has caused widespread shortages and the flight of more than four million refugees.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Graff

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