A group consisting of a dozen Latin American countries and Canada has said Venezuela‘s political turmoil is threatening regional peace and global security, and urged the international community to make a “huge effort to re-establish” democracy in the South American country.
The Lima Group on Tuesday began its 15th meeting in Argentina’s capital with a message of support for opposition leader Juan Guaido and a request for democratic elections in Venezuela – a call rejected by President Nicolas Maduro.
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“We have to make a great effort to ensure that the restoration of the democratic order in Venezuela is achieved through the call for elections,” Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said during the meeting in Buenos Aires.
Venezuela was thrust into a political impasse six months ago when Guaido declared himself acting president after branding Maduro a “usurper” because of his “fraudulent” 2018 re-election.
Maduro instead calls Guaido a United States-backed puppet seeking to remove him in a coup.
The Lima Group meeting came as members of the government and opposition representatives were holding talks in Barbados in an attempt to break the stalemate.
“In certain sectors inside the international community, there is this perception that the [government] is using current negotiations as a delaying tactic to gain some time, while they continue to weaken the figure of Guaido,” Venezuelan analyst Carlos Pina told Al Jazeera from Caracas.
“As a response, the opposition and its international allies are increasing the pressure to be able to generate an internal change,” he added.
In Buenos Aires, Nestor Popolizio, Peru‘s foreign minister, asked for “urgent and concrete help in the form of international cooperation” to relieve the burden on countries hosting the migrants.
“The crisis is worsening and requires an urgent solution in the form of credible, transparent, free and fair elections,” Popolizio said.
A quarter of Venezuela’s 30 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations, while three million have left the country since early 2016.
Human rights abuses
The regional bloc also called on the UN Security Council to discuss Venezuela after the world body’s High Commission for Human Rights released a damning report on Maduro’s government
In a UN report released earlier this month, the international body said Venezuelan security forces were sending death squads to murder young men and staged the scenes to make it look like the victims critical of the government resisted arrest.
The report added the killings were part of a strategy by the government aimed at “neutralising, repressing and criminalising political opponents”.
“The report from the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights makes it clear that there is no room for any country to continue to support the illegitimate regime of Maduro,” Argentina’s Faurie said.
“(The Lima Group) urges the UN Security Council to join the Lima Group’s commitments and to contribute to the return of the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela.“
Maduro’s government has rejected the results of the report and has accused UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet of offering “a selective and openly biased vision” of human rights in Venezuela.