Merseyside, United Kingdom, February 14, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Peruvian government revoked its invitation to Venezuela for a regional summit Tuesday, citing the country’s recent decision to bring forward presidential elections to April 22.
Speaking on behalf of the so-called “Lima Group”, which brings together more than a dozen states in the hemisphere opposed to Caracas' leftist government, Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovin said that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was “not welcome” at the Organisation of American States' Summit of the Americas, due to be held on April 13-14.
The move comes less than a week after the Venezuelan government indicated that President Maduro would seek to attend the upcoming event to defend Venezuelan sovereignty.
Citing OAS regulations, Aljovin said the early elections would exacerbate the alleged “rupture of the Constitutional democratic order” in Venezuela and presented an “insurmountable obstacle for the participation” of Maduro at the event.
“On this basis, and given the current situation in Venezuela, Peru has decided to express itself in respect to the participation of Nicolas Maduro at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, that his presence will no longer be welcome,” she stated.
Venezuela’s electoral authorities (CNE) announced last week that April 22 would be the date for the upcoming presidential elections in response to a decree by the National Constituent Assembly mandating the race be held before the end of April.
The CNE’s announcement was made two days after a deal was expected to be reached between the Venezuelan government and the opposition coalition, the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD), following talks in the Dominican Republic. Nonetheless, the much-anticipated agreement for peaceful co-existence between the two warring political factions failed to materialise after the opposition refused to sign the final deal negotiated over the course of months. The opposition’s decision prompted harsh criticism from international facilitators such as former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, who publicly urged them to ratify the accord.
Spokespeople for the opposition have since indicated that they lobbied Peru to ban Maduro from the upcoming summit following the announcement of the election dates last Wednesday.
“We are satisfied about the fact that Peru is declaring Nicolás Maduro unwelcome at the Summit of the Americas,” MUD spokesperson Paulina Facchín told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“We had been requesting this, because it is a moral sentence against the dictator Maduro,” she said.
Both the MUD and the Lima Group have accused the government of unilaterally calling the elections. Nonetheless, in statements to press explaining the failure of the two sides to reach an agreement, Dominican President and chief facilitator Danilo Medina said that the date had in fact been agreed.
“The government proposed March 8, then it moved up to the 18, and then 15 of April, and through the intervention of Zapatero and myself, we managed to agree April 22,” said Medina.
Peru’s announcement comes as the United States ramps up its rhetoric against Venezuela, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently concluding an unprecedented tour of Latin American countries to assess the possibility of a regional oil embargo on the country. Just days prior to beginning the tour on February 1, Tillerson told press that the Venezuelan army could act to remove the Venezuelan government, while Maduro could be exiled to Cuba.
"In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad, and the leadership can no longer serve the people," the former ExxonMobil CEO told an audience at the University of Texas-Austin.
His comments were followed a week later by a tweet from Republican Senator for Florida Marco Rubio on February 9 calling for the Venezuelan military to remove Maduro by force.
“The world would support [them],” he tweeted.
Both the US government and the Lima Group have already stated they will not recognise the results of upcoming presidential elections in the country, which is reeling from sanctions imposed by the United States, Canada and the European Union, as well as a trade embargo from the UK.
Meanwhile, both Brazil and Colombia sent thousands of troops to their joint border with Venezuela last week, leading Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab to allege Monday that a full-scale intervention was being planned from the Colombian border.
In response to the increasing pressure on the Venezuelan government from regional counterparts and the US, Bolivian President and close Maduro ally Evo Morales called for an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Tuesday.
“I want to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with Venezuela, given the constant threats of intervention. The US must stop threatening us,” he tweeted.
“UNASUR should call an emergency meeting and make the sovereignty of our brother country respected,” read the tweet.
UNASUR has yet to respond to Morales’ statement.