Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lima Group calls for Venezuela regime change without force

Lima Group calls for Venezuela regime change without force

The declaration reaffirming "support and recognition" for Guaido was signed by 11 of the 14 members of the Lima Group, and called for the worldwide community to support Guaido's efforts at establishing a "government of democratic transition" in Venezuela.

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 United Kingdom, expired on Sunday.

Maduro's government, overseeing an economic collapse that has prompted three million Venezuelans to flee the oil-rich country, lashed out at the European Union nations and said the move would affect relations with Caracas.

Despite repeated calls for his resignation, Maduro has refused to step down, contending that he was legally the President of Venezuela.

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, urging both fair elections and humanitarian aid.

Maduro has been called on to resign and let the country hold a new presidential election as his government has sidelined the National Assembly, held widely questioned elections, and overseen an economic crisis that has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee, mostly to other South American countries.

The government "expresses its most energetic rejection of the decision adopted by some European governments, in which they officially submit to the USA administration's strategy to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro", it said in a statement, and singled out Spain for acting "cowardly".

The U.S., which has not ruled out a military intervention in crisis-racked Venezuela, was the first to recognize him as acting president, followed by a dozen Latin American countries.

At the same time, the group welcomed into the Lima Group Guaido's "legitimate government of Venezuela" and vowed to "recognize and work with" his representatives in their respective countries. Is Maduro right to reject the aid?

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Critics have called that election a sham and the mainstream opposition boycotted it.

"We want to go to an open economy, we want to increase oil production", Guaidó's USA envoy Carlos Vecchio said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Venezuela has been under political turmoil since January 10 after Maduro was sworn-in for a second six-year term as the President, prompting protests by the country " s Opposition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Venezuela crisis could be solved only by getting the authorities and opposition to talk to each other, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

Last month, the Lima Group announced a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials and a freeze on their foreign assets.

But an attempt to muscle up the bloc's common position was vetoed by Italy, four diplomatic sources told AFP, with the coalition government in Rome divided over how to handle the Venezuela crisis.

Maduro blames Washington and other Western nations for sabotaging Venezuela's economy, including through sanctions. Uruguay's central bank and the office of the country's president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this month, Wood Mackenzie analyst Ann-Louise Hittle warned that Venezuela's crude oil production could fall below 1 million bpd after the United States imposed new sanctions on struggling oil firm PDVSA.

Eleven of the group's 14 members issued a joint statement calling for a peaceful change of government in Venezuela, without military intervention.

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