Caracas, February 5, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Lima Group issued a declaration calling on the armed forces to back self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido, following a meeting in Ottawa on Monday.
The declaration reaffirming “support and recognition” for Guaido was signed by 11 of the 14 members of the Lima Group, and called for the international community to support Guaido’s efforts at establishing a “government of democratic transition” in Venezuela. Guyana, Saint Lucia, and Mexico, for their part, abstained from the resolution.
The 17-point statement welcomed Julio Borges as Guaido’s representative before the group, pledging to collaborate with the opposition politician.
In addition, the undersigned countries, called on the armed forces to “demonstrate their loyalty” to Guaido, and rejected any dialogue initiative that does not support the “roadmap” laid out by the opposition leader
Finally, they stressed their support for a “process of peaceful transition through political and diplomatic means without the use of force.”
Juan Guaido swore himself in as “interim president” during a public rally in Caracas on January 23, before being immediately recognized by the United States and several right-wing Latin American governments. The Trump administration proceeded to impose the harshest sanctions to date on Caracas, freezing assets such as Citgo, Houston-based subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA, and imposing a de facto oil embargo.
A number of European countries backed Guaido on Monday after an eight-day ultimatum for President Maduro to call new elections, imposed by Spain, France, Germany and the UK, expired on Sunday.
However, an attempt to issue a joint European Union statement on the matter was blocked by Italy, with Alessandro Battisti of the 5-Star Movement, the leading party of the ruling coalition, saying that “Handing out ultimatums, sanctions, freezing Venezuelan goods […] would mean opening the road to a military intervention,” and adding that the party would not recognize “people who appoint themselves president.”
The 19 European governments that backed Guaido issued a statement on Monday, declaring they “acknowledge and support” the opposition leader’s claim to the presidency and right to call elections. The term “recognize” was, however, absent from the joint declaration, fueling speculation that European countries are not prepared to go as far as the US in escalating economic sanctions on the country.
President Maduro reacted to the latest Lima Group statement, calling it “disgusting” and adding that the attacks against Venezuela are also “an attack on the whole left, on all progressives” in Lima Group countries.
Maduro’s speech was part of an event titled “We are Venezuela for democracy and peace,” hosted by the Foreign Ministry on the anniversary of the failed military insurrection of February 4, 1992, that threw former President Hugo Chavez into the national limelight.
The Venezuelan president called for social movements around the world to create a “powerful solidarity movement that will denounce, reject and defeat the threats of a US military intervention in Venezuela.”
Maduro also announced an initiative to collect signatures throughout the country on a document directed to Donald Trump and the people of the US, in opposition to “threats of an invasion and intervention, demanding respect for international law.” He concluded by slamming the US’ rejection of the dialogue initiative of the Mexican and Uruguayan governments to be held on Thursday.
“The US government says no to dialogue because they want to impose a coup that has already failed,” he concluded.
Monday’s event also featured several high-ranking figures from the government and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), as well as international activists.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said, “we know who is taking the decisions,” indicating that Venezuelan efforts are directed to “stop imperialism from setting foot in Venezuela.”
Likewise, Argentine sociologist Marco Teruggi argued that there are no conditions for a coup to be successful because the Venezuelan people would defend its sovereignty.
An “anti-imperialist stage” was also set up in Caracas’ Plaza Bolivar, featuring several Venezuelan and foreign speakers. Canadian journalist and activist Arnold August stressed the recent statement by the Canadian Labour Congress, representing over 3 million members, supporting Venezuela’s sovereignty and rejecting foreign intervention.
“The Canadian workers stand with Venezuela!” August told the crowd.
Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas also took part in the event, stating that “if [the US] wants friendship, we will have friendship. If they want to attack our freedom, we will tell them what Chavez told them: váyanse al carajo [go to hell]!”
Edited by Lucas Koerner in Caracas.