Venezuela Rejects Lima Group Statement Urging Further Isolation of Caracas

Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly president, Delcy Rodriguez, spoke out Sunday against a statement issued by a dozen regional governments calling for increased international intervention in the South American country.

By Lucas Koerner
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Venezuelan ANC President Delcy Rodriguez. (EFE)

Venezuelan ANC President Delcy Rodriguez. (EFE)
Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez rejected the Lima Group's statement on Sunday. (EFE)

Caracas, October 30, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) president, Delcy Rodriguez, spoke out Sunday against a statement issued by a dozen regional governments calling for increased international intervention in the South American country.

Meeting in Toronto on Thursday, the Lima Group released a declaration urging neighbouring states to move to “further isolate” Venezuela.

“If necessary we must put added pressure on the Maduro regime by taking concrete steps to further isolate it from the international community,” affirmed Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, speaking on behalf of the body.

The Lima Group – which includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru – was formed in response to Venezuela’s July 30 ANC elections, and has followed Washington and the Organization of American States (OAS) in labeling “fraudulent”.

For her part, Freeland said that her government was mulling a second round of sanctions against Venezuelan officials, adding, “other countries should consider doing so as well”.

However, speaking during a television interview on Sunday, Rodriguez dismissed the statement, calling the coalition a “group of failed governments”.

“[The Lima Group is a] group of failed governments [led by Luis] Almagro because they did not obtain what they sought in the Organization of American States, which was the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Venezuela,” she said, referring to the OAS secretary general's thwarted year and a half long campaign to suspend Caracas from the regional body.

Referencing the ruling socialist party’s surprise win in October 15 regional elections, she added that the “[opposition] defeat is felt at an international level and they [the Lima Group] reveal that they don’t know what is happening in Venezuela, speaking with a language of violence”.

On October 17, the 12-nation coalition echoed the Venezuelan opposition in calling into question the election result and demanding an independent audit. To date, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council has carried out two audits of the vote, while the opposition has yet to produce evidence to back up its allegations of generalised fraud. 

Meanwhile, Washington issued a statement Friday endorsing the Lima Group’s “leadership in addressing the deteriorating situation in Venezuela”.

“We urge others in the international community to join the Lima Group and the United States in opposing the Maduro regime’s authoritarian actions, which are responsible for the worsening political, economic, and social crises facing the country and the Venezuelan people,” said US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert.

Nonetheless, calls for furthering international intervention in Venezuela were opposed by Russia Thursday, which urged countries to “refrain from pressure and sanctions whose counterproductive nature is obvious".

“We believe that the threats of external pressure on Caracas with the use of unilateral sanctions-related mechanisms, isolationist measures and forceful, ultimatum-like methods are categorically unacceptable,” declared Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Moscow additionally praised the October 15 election as an indication that “people are tired of violence and are looking to resolve political disagreements in a civilized way”, welcoming the decision of four out of five opposition governors to swear in before the ANC last week.

The swearing in has splintered the Venezuelan opposition, with the main opposition coalition vowing last week to begin an international tour to denounce alleged “electoral fraud”.

In September, top opposition leaders launched a high-profile European tour where they met with European heads of state and demanded the European Union slap Venezuela with sanctions.

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