The Lima Group released Friday a joint statement imposing direct economic sanctions on Venezuela for the first time.
The measures, which mirror many of those already imposed by Washington, also include a “review” of diplomatic relations and call on President Maduro to resign.
The group, which is largely made up of right wing Latin American governments, pledged to impede high-level Venezuelan government officials from entering their countries and accessing their financial systems. They also agreed to “restrict” general credit lines to Venezuela, suspend military cooperation, and evaluate flyover permits.
The agreement was signed by all of the Lima Group members except Mexico whose newly elected center-left government slammed the move as “interventionist”. Other regional governments, including Uruguay, Bolivia, Cuba and other ALBA allies, as well as strategic partners further afield such as Russia, have already announced their objection to the measures. The sanctions have, however, been applauded by Washington, with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo calling Maduro’s upcoming presidential inauguration a “sham”.
Venezuelan political parties, social movements, and government bodies have been quick to condemn the statement, with Maduro calling the group a “cartel”.
Below we reproduce a statement from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign UK expressing its rejection at the Lima Group stance.
Respect Venezuela’s national sovereignty
On January 4, 2019, the so-called “Lima Group” (12 Latin American governments and Canada) issued a statement which represents a gross interference in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In it they neither accept the decision made by the people of Venezuela on May 20, 2018, when they re-elected Nicolas Maduro as their president with 68% of the votes cast, nor the election’s constitutional bases (Arts. 347,348 and 349 of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution).
The Lima Group statement goes as far as to demand President Maduro not take possession on January 10, 2019 to begin his second mandate for the period 2019-2025 and even urges him to resign. The Lima Group statement is abjectly in line with the US aim of "regime change," a key objective of US foreign policy towards Bolivarian Venezuela since 1999 now massively intensified under Donald Trump and ex-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, current US secretary of state.
The Lima Group statement goes on to announce a series of punitive sanctions – in line with US sanctions against Bolivarian Venezuela – aimed at financially strangling and politically isolating this South American nation. The US intention behind it is to bring about maximum instability so as to create the conditions for "regime change" for which the US might be prepared to resort to military means as has been threatened on several occasions by high US officials, including Donald Trump himself. The Lima Group represents the region’s extreme right wing (within which Brazil’s Bolsonaro administration is now playing a central role) that, by hook or by crook, seeks to eradicate all forms of progressive politics in the region as the scandalously wrongful imprisonment of former President Lula so eloquently demonstrates.
The US does not formally belong to the Lima Group but it clearly directs it, guides it and above all it determines its policy. For example, the Lima Group welcomed Mike Pompeo by videoconferencing into their meeting before they issued their abhorrent statement. The statement violates every principle which multilateral bodies such as the Organization of American States and the UN are based upon, since they are premised on the sacrosanct right to self-determination and national sovereignty. With the gross interference contained in their January 4, 2019 statement, aimed at carrying out the empire’s objectives, the US-led Lima Group has performed probably one of the most shameful acts of abject political servility to Uncle Sam committed by the region’s oligarchies.
The Lima Group statement must be unequivocally rejected and squarely opposed, Venezuela’s national sovereignty and the will of the people fully respected. This is the approach of Mexico’s whose new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who refused to support the Lima Group statement and whose minister for Latin American and the Caribbean affairs, Maximiliano Reyes, issued a declaration advocating peace, dialogue and diplomacy as the best way to solve the problems that beset Venezuela.
Trump, hands off Venezuela! No pasarán!
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.