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Peru says Venezuelan leader is “not welcome” at upcoming regional summit

Host country to Summit of the Americas withdraws Nicolás Maduro invitation over April 22 election

The ministers at the gathering of the Lima Group.
The ministers at the gathering of the Lima Group. REUTERS

The government of Venezuela is feeling increasingly isolated in the international stage. After taking the unilateral decision to call presidential elections for April 22 without support from the opposition, President Nicolás Maduro is now getting the cold shoulder from the 14 nations that make up the Lima Group, which includes some of the biggest economies in the Americas.

This is a moral sentence against the dictator Maduro

Paulina Facchín, MUD

Ministers meeting in the Peruvian capital analyzed the situation in Venezuela after the failure of months-long talks between the Madura government and opposition, hosted by Dominican Republic.

Peru’s foreign minister, Cayetana Aljovín, announced that Maduro’s presence “will no longer be welcome” at the Summit of the Americas scheduled for April 13 and 14 in Lima, just eight days before the Venezuelan election.

A joint statement by Lima Group members has urged Maduro to set a new election date, honoring the demands of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). The countries that make up the group – including Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Panama – also supported the decision to withdraw Maduro’s invitation to the Summit of the Americas, a regional gathering of heads of state and government.

“We are satisfied about the fact that Peru is declaring Nicolás Maduro unwelcome at the Summit of the Americas, said Paulina Facchín, a MUD representative, in statements to EL PAÍS. “We had been requesting this, because it is a moral sentence against the dictator Maduro.”

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro speaking to the press on February 8.
Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro speaking to the press on February 8. AFP

Minister Aljovín said that the move was justified by a text that was approved at the 2001 summit in Quebec, and which states that any alteration of the democratic order in any participating state will be grounds for expulsion from the summit.

The government of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, whose country is hosting the next Summit of the Americas, decided to “reconsider” Venezuelan participation after the Maduro administration created a parallel Constituent Assembly that took power away from the opposition-controlled Congress.

The Venezuelan election will lack any legitimacy, said the Lima Group. In its statement, it noted that it is impossible to hold free and fair elections when there are political prisoners, when parties are not fully participating in politics, and when political leaders are being arbitrarily detained or barred from running for office.

A joint statement by the Lima Group urges Maduro to offer a new election date

Hours before the meeting, a delegation representing the Venezuelan opposition handed ministers a letter requesting measures such as a humanitarian corridor to provide relief to struggling Venezuelans.

Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín of Colombia said that “this situation fills us with sadness, because [Venezuelans] are arriving in the worst conditions, in need of medicines, health care and food. Venezuela needs to think about its people. We are ready to support and cooperate in creating a humanitarian corridor.”

Colombia is now facing an immigration crisis of its own as thousands of Venezuelans cross the border into the neighboring country along their shared 2,000km border.

English version by Susana Urra.

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