Puebla, Mexico, August 10, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s internal crisis continued to divide Latin America on Tuesday, with rival regional groups issuing statements both in support and against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
The leftist regional bloc, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), praised Venezuela’s recently inaugurated national constituent assembly (ANC). Formed last week, the ANC will have the power to propose constitutional changes, which will later be put to a referendum. While Maduro has stated the ANC could help ease Venezuela's political crisis, the new body has been marred by allegations of electoral fraud.
Describing the ANC as an “an authentic act of sovereignty”, ALBA called on the international community to respect the will of the Venezuelan people.
"Our people seek harmony, integration and here we have a declaration of total unconditional support for Venezuela’s democracy, it's democratically-elected president and to the people who have been valiantly defending their rights and sovereignty," ALBA Secretary General David Choquehuanca told state media outlet teleSUR.
ALBA also condemned recent US sanctions on Venezuela, accusing Washington of seeking regime change.
"We reiterate that the unilateral economic sanctions imposed against the Venezuelan people are a flagrant violation of international law and human rights, as well as an unacceptable interventionist implementation, whose only purpose is to directly hinder the Bolivarian people and government of Venezuela in order to create regime change," ALBA’s statement read.
ALBA’s statement in support of Venezuela coincided with the meeting of another a group of countries in Lima, Peru, where representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru declared the ANC illegitimate.
Dubbed as the Lima Declaration, the countries stated that Venezuela “is no longer a democracy". The declaration accused President Maduro's government of "the systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, violence, repression and political persecution, the existence of political prisoners and the lack of free elections under independent international observation”.
Along with rejecting the ANC, the declaration also called for international recognition of Venezuela’s parliament, the National Assembly (AN). In a 16 point action plan, the declaration stated signatory countries will refuse to vote in favour of Venezuela at international bodies like the United Nations, an expression of support for former attorney general Luisa Ortega, and calls for renewed negotiations between the Maduro administration and the opposition. In recent months, Maduro himself has also repeatedly called for negotiations.
The Declaration of Lima also called for a halt to arms sales to Venezuela, citing articles 6 and 7 of the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty. These two articles ban conventional arms sales in cases of extreme human rights abuses, including genocide and war crimes.
Venezuela’s last four months of political violence has claimed 126 lives so far, according to data compiled by venezuelanalysis.com. At least 31 of these deaths have been attributed to the actions of anti-government groups, while at least 14 are believed to be linked to the use of force by state security personnel such as police and the National Guard.
Many of the countries that signed the Lima Declaration face their own myriad of allegations of human rights abuses. The host country, Peru, was accused last month of human rights abuses linked to its failure to clean up oil spills affecting indigenous communities, while both Colombia and Brazil have been accused of using excessive force to put down protests.