Venezuela

Venezuela’s Maduro was disinvited to the Americas Summit but says he’s going anyway

A woman dressed in a death costume wears a surgical mask over her mouth and a message on her forehead that reads in Spanish: “Venezuela agonizes” during a protest demanding the government attend to the country’s health crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Shortages of medicine, medical supplies and services are causing avoidable deaths in the South American country.
A woman dressed in a death costume wears a surgical mask over her mouth and a message on her forehead that reads in Spanish: “Venezuela agonizes” during a protest demanding the government attend to the country’s health crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Shortages of medicine, medical supplies and services are causing avoidable deaths in the South American country. AP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that nothing will keep him from attending the Summit of the Americas — even though Peru revoked his invitation to the April gathering, where the oil country’s crisis is expected to be one of the main topics of discussion.

“I am going to that summit and we will see each other’s faces, and I will defend Venezuela’s truth,” Maduro said at a press conference. “What is it — are you afraid of me? You don’t want to see me in Lima? Well, you will see me, because come rain or shine, be it coming over by air, land or sea, I will arrive at the summit.”

The annual regional policy gathering is being held in Lima on April 13 and 14.

Maduro — who announced the night before that he plans to reopen Venezuela’s Consulate in Miami — also accused the Trump administration of leading an international plot, along with the Venezuelan opposition, that aims to destroy Venezuela’s economy and to depose him as the country’s leader.

The consulate — located in Miami, where most Venezuelans exiled in the U.S. live — was closed in 2012 after press reports that the consul general, Livia Acosta, was actually a Venezuelan spy.

The Peruvian government announced its decision to disinvite Maduro Tuesday night at the end of a meeting of the Lima Group, a coalition of mostly Latin American nations plus Canada that seek to stabilize Venezuela. At the meeting, Latin American foreign ministers and government representatives discussed Venezuela’s worsening political and economic crisis, and Peru said it would revoke Venezuela’s summit invitation due to the country’s unconstitutional plans to hold an early presidential election.

“We support the decision of Peru, as the host of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to withdraw its invitation to President Maduro of Venezuela. Peru’s decision was made with the support of the Lima Group, which upheld the high democratic standard for Summit participation,” the State Department said in a press release issued late on Wednesday.

“The United States welcomes the firm statement from the Lima Group rejecting the unilateral decision by the Venezuelan regime to hold elections April 22,” the department said, urging Venezuela to set a new election calendar that complies with the constitution.

The U.S. government and some of the most influential countries in Latin America have already announced they will not recognize the result of the April 22 election, which was moved ahead of its regular schedule by the National Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful entity rejected by most members of the international community.

In its declaration on Tuesday, the Lima Group said there aren’t guarantees that the planned elections will be free and fair, especially since there are political prisoners in the country, key opposition members have been arbitrarily kept from being able to participate and the government maintains a firm control over electorate officials.

The declaration was signed by ministers and representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucía.

Antonio María Delgado is found in Twitter:@DelgadoAntonioM

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