And by “surprise” I obviously mean not surprising in the least.

Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro had been scheduled to appear in Geneva next week to give a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The hilarious nature of that statement alone is enough to keep a late night comic supplied with material for a week, but Venezuela for some reason retains a seat on the 47 nation body and I suppose it was his turn. But the Council cleared up the confusion and said that the Venezuelan delegation would be sending someone to take his place. (Reuters)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will not address the U.N. Human Rights Council next week, contrary to what had been announced, the United Nations and his country’s diplomatic mission said on Tuesday.

Maduro, accused of trampling on human rights and democracy in Venezuela, had been expected to address the opening day of a three-week United Nations Human Rights Council session on Sept. 11.

“The president is not coming,” a Venezuelan diplomat in Geneva told Reuters on Tuesday.

Rolando Gomez, Council spokesman, said in a statement: ”Please note that per information the HRC Secretariat just received, President Maduro of Venezuela will not address the Human Rights Council.

“Instead, (Foreign) Minister (Jorge) Arreaza Montserrat has been scheduled to address the Council on the opening day of the session.”

Montserrat is a predictable pick to stand in for Maduro I suppose. He’s served as Vice President of the country as well as Minister of Science and is a Chavez loyalist. He’s been carrying water for Maduro ever since the government was dismantled but he’s not directly associated with most of the abuses taking place back home.

Still, that raises some interesting questions. What if Maduro had actually shown up in Geneva or, in an even more fanciful scenario, if he came to New York City to speak at Turtle Bay? Could we arrest him? For that matter, could we arrest Montserrat in either location? It’s a tempting proposition to be sure, but the answer is almost certainly no. Well… technically I suppose we could in theory, but the fallout would be disastrous. Other world leaders would essentially be on lockdown at that point, fearful of traveling to any foreign countries where they might be unpopular at the time.

In the end, Maduro retains a free hand to travel the world and represent his country, at least until somebody in Venezuela figures out a way to remove him. No matter how many of his people are thrown into dungeons, murdered or starved to death, as long as he’s attacking his own people and not another country it remains an internal matter. Maduro is Venezuela’s problem, and aside from some additional sanctions there isn’t much we can realistically do about it.

But if Kim Jong-un was dumb enough to show up at the U.N. some day…. naw. Probably no sense dwelling on that.