Mexico has become the only country out of 14 Latin American states that has not condemned the new Venezuelan presidency of Nicolas Maduro for taking office this Thursday 10.
Placing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his government as the sole voice that didn’t urge Maduro not to take power, questions have been raised over the country’s increasingly non-interventionist stance towards Venezuela. Furthermore, it follows reports that AMLO invited Maduro to his presidential inauguration, marking a firm shift from Mexico’s criticism of Venezuela under previous governments.
“Mexico believes that the most effective way to reach the objectives for which this group was created is through initiatives of mediation and dialogue, not isolation . . . Mexico will maintain diplomatic relations with Venezuela in order to be able to consider with interest the proposals of action or diplomatic steps that the different political and social forces of that country formulate . . .” said the deputy foreign secretary for Latin America, Maximiliano Reyes.
Despite standing alone from the Lima Group agreement, declared last Friday, this week Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador firmly pointed out in a press conference that Mexico does not hold sympathies with Venezuela.
“We prefer neutrality, do not meddle,’’ AMLO is quoted as saying. ‘‘And, I repeat, it is not a matter of sympathy, it is a matter that has to do with principles of our foreign policy, which we are going to defend.’’
Dogged by hyperinflation that has seen Venezuela’s currency drop in value by 99.9%, a government refusing to provide citizens with the passports they need to leave, and an ongoing desperation that has seen an exodus of some 2.3 million people in the past five years, the South American continent is facing a humanitarian crisis in which no country can be devoid of participation.
On Friday, the Lima Group, made up of 14 governments in the Latin region, made a statement promising not to recognise Maduro’s reinauguration as legitimate, with only Mexico abstaining.
According to the meeting, governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia have all backed the decision, which deems last May’s election illegitimate.
The United States does not form part of the Lima Group, created in 2017, however Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also took part in Friday’s meeting through a video call.
The election in question saw 8.6 million Venezuelans cast their votes on 20 May 2018 for their next president. The election also saw Maduro’s two most popular rivals, Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez, barred from running before the current president secured his second term with an estimated 5.8 million votes. His main opponent secured just 1.8 million votes, amidst criticism of low voter turnout (just 46% of the population voted) and large irregularities.
The illegitimate nature of Maduro’s win has also recently been called out by a Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice who has this year fled to the United States. Judge Christian Zerpa renounced the government, and according to Reuters explained: “I believe (Maduro) does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive.”
Calling on Maduro not to take office and suggesting that it’s the only way to restore effective democracy within Venezuela, the Lima Group has also threatened to restrict Venezuelan officials from entering their countries. According to the press release, threats have gone as far as planning to freeze funds and ensure financial organisations from the respective countries do not involve themselves with Venezuelan dealings.
Last September, ten members of the Lima Group also released a statement explaining ‘‘they urge the Venezuelan regime to put an end to human rights violations, to free political prisoners, to respect the autonomy of the powers of the State and to assume their responsibility for the serious crisis that Venezuela is experiencing today.’’ The most recent decisions by the group point to a firmer approach in a bid to restore democracy within Venezuela.
Despite amplified criticism from peers around the globe, Maduro is set to be sworn into office this Thursday. In the meantime, Venezuela’s crisis continues in full stead amidst reports that Venezuelan classrooms are nearly empty and polls suggesting that 30% of the remaining population eat just once a day.