Lima Group Demands Suspension of Venezuela Elections as Canada Announces Humanitarian Aid

The bloc of conservative regional governments called Venezuela “undemocratic” ahead of presidential elections this coming Sunday.

Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray reads the Lima Group communiqué, May 14, 2018
Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray reads the Lima Group communiqué, May 14, 2018

Caracas, May 15, 2018 ( – In a Monday meeting in Mexico City, the Lima Group made a “final call” to Venezuela to suspend its upcoming presidential elections, which it described as “illegitimate and lacking in credibility.” This right-leaning body, composed of mostly Latin American nations, threatened undisclosed measures against Venezuela should the elections take place.

The May 14 statement, signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and St. Lucia, lambasted the Maduro administration as “authoritarian” and claimed that there had been a rupture in the country’s constitutional order. The conservative governments argue that the May 20 elections, which mark Venezuela’s 24th electoral process since 1998, are fraudulent due to an alleged lack of guarantees despite all presidential candidates signing a comprehensive agreement ensuring fair play in March.

This week’s meeting of the Lima Group, which was formed one year ago to oppose President Maduro’s convening of a National Constituent Assembly, included participation by countries not officially part of the body such as the US and Spain. In a video conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged member states to block Venezuelan leaders from using their financial systems and to bar them entry to their countries, according to a press statements by the State Department.

Though the content of the proposed future measure was not disclosed, the group said that it has analyzed “possible scenarios” and identified a series of “actions” they could take. In the words of Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, the future steps would be aimed a “restoring democracy to Venezuela.”

Meanwhile, Lima Group member-state Canada, announced Monday that it would donate US$1.3 million in humanitarian assistance reportedly to help Venezuelans affected by the country’s severe economic crisis.

Part of the Canadian funds will go to Venezuelan refugees in neighboring Colombia.

Over the past year, the Trudeau government has stepped up pressure on Caracas, following the Trump administration in imposing sanctions on top Venezuelan officials, including President Maduro and his leading ministers.

While Ottawa has yet to follow Washington in imposing direct economic sanctions, the current restrictions prohibit Canadian banks and businesses from having any dealings with the blacklisted officials, effectively hindering the Venezuelan government’s ability to import Canadian goods and services as well as secure lines of credit.

UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas has called the sanctions campaign, in which the US and European Union also participate, “a crime against humanity,” on the grounds that the measures limit Venezuelan citizens’ access to vital imports, including food and medicine.