International community needs to play more active role in supporting ‘prompt return to democracy’, their statement says.
The Lima Group regional bloc and EU-led contact group on Venezuela have called on Latin America and the broader international community to play a more active role in restoring democracy to Venezuela.
The two groups made their call in a joint statement issued on Monday after Lima Group members Canada, Chile and Peru met European Union representatives at the United Nations.
“While the solution needs to be a Venezuelan one, the regional impact of the crisis requires the region and the international community to play a more active role in supporting a prompt return to democracy,” said Monday’s statement, which was read out at a news conference by Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio.
The statement did not give more details and Popolizio, accompanied by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero, did not elaborate.
The 12-nation Lima Group and most Western countries have recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s legitimate interim president.
Guaido invoked the country’s constitution in January to declare himself interim president, calling the reelection of President Nicolas Maduro was illegitimate. Maduro, who has repeatedly said he will not step aside, accuses Guaido and the United States of staging a coup. He maintains the support of Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba, as well as most of the country’s state institutions, including the military.
Hyperinflation, unemployment and food and medicine shortages have driven more than three million Venezuelans abroad in recent years.
Meanwhile on Monday, US President Donald Trump said that Russia told the US it had removed most of its people from Venezuela.
Moscow supports Maduro, who has said Guaido is a puppet of Washington.
“Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela,” Trump, who is on a state visit to the UK, wrote on Twitter. He did not elaborate.
Trump’s remarks followed a Wall Street Journal article that said Russia had been withdrawing its military advisers from Venezuela over the last few months.
Russia’s Rostec State Corporation, responsible for training Venezuelan military personnel and providing consultations on weapons supply contacts, reduced the number of its advisers from about a thousand to several dozen, the article reported.
According to Russia’s Tass news agency, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has declined to comment on the report.
“You are asking the wrong party. You should ask the companies that maintain the equipment provided to Venezuela earlier,” he told reporters.
But the Kremlin spokesman pointed out that the information “has already been rejected by Russia’s side”.
A Rostec spokesman told Tass earlier on Monday that Rostec’s personnel in Venezuela had remained unchanged for years.
“The number of military advisers mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article is exaggerated tens of times,” he said.
“The office staff has remained unchanged for many years. As for technicians, they arrive in the country from time to time to maintain and repair the equipment provided earlier. Just recently, the maintenance of a batch of aircraft was completed,” the spokesman said.
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