The Mauricio Macri administration was among nine Latin American governments who condemned the “violence that has been unleashed” in Venezuela yesterday, demanded the country “goes back to respecting democratic institutions” and “sets a date for elections,” among other things.

“We energetically condemn the violence that has been unleashed in Venezuela as well as its refusal to abide by the pleas from the international community like the marches carried in the country are carried in a peaceful climate and without violence,” reads the release. The document was signed by Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and her counterparts from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The release goes on to urges Venezuela to “set the dates to abide by the electoral calendar, free all political prisoners and guarantee the separation of constitutional powers.”

“We reaffirm that is urgent for the Venezuelan authorities to adopt measures to assure fundamental rights and preserve social peace,” it adds.

Photo via Reuters.
Photo via Reuters.

The joint statement concludes by backing the “declaration formulated by the United Nation’s Secretary General [António Guterres] urging all involved parties to adopt concrete measures to reduce polarization and create the necessary conditions to face the country’s challenges in benefit of the Venezuelan people.”

The Macri administration has always been highly critical about the role of the Nicolás Maduro administration in the severe economic, political and social crisis currently unfolding in Venezuela. In fact, it spearheaded various initiatives in international organizations to condemn what the administration considers to be continued human rights violations: it has supported the application of the so-called “democratic clause” — which separates a country from an international organization — in the Mercosur trading bloc and has called the Organization of American States (OAS) to do the same.

This new wave of criticism comes in the aftermath of a series of marches against the Maduro administration that have been taking place this week, where several people died as a result of clashes between members of the opposition and the Venezuelan national guard and incidents consequence of looting.

On Wednesday, President Macri took to Twitter to express his “deep sorrow for the deaths in Venezuela” and reiterated the “urge from the region’s countries to call for elections.”

This statement was relatively mild, even for Macri’s standards. The Argentine leader has traditionally spoke his mind about Maduro. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, he said that “there’s a dictatorship in Venezuela that doesn’t respect a single human right” and promised to “keep fighting for these Venezuelans who are suffering the consequences of this disaster.”

Following the same line, Foreign Minister Malcorra said that the “the alert is completely red for Venezuela,” as “its democratic institutions have been corroded.” “An electoral calendar needs to be produce to reassure the people’s right to express themselves,” she said when speaking to press in Brussels, where she’s partaking in negotiations between the Mercosur and the European union to move forwards towards a free trade agreement.

Renewal Front (FR) leader Sergio Massa issued a more critical statement, assuring that “Venezuela is a dictatorship simulating to be a democracy.” “Maduro is a coward who, with blood and fire, represses students and opposition members,” he said.

However, not all factions across the Argentine political spectrum share this stance. The former director of the Federal Intelligence Agency under the last period of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, Oscar Parrilli, assured that “Maduro is not criticized for his mistakes, but for his accomplishments, like we [Kirchnerism] were.”

“[The repression at the march] is a regrettable image and no one likes it. But there are people in the opposition’s marches who have bombs and tear gas, seeking to cause damage and destroying public property. They were there to provoke. There’s an extremely tense situation and Maduro said his administration will call for elections,” he said in an interview with journalist Jorge Rial.

“There was also a massive march in favor of the Venezuelan leader, but they are not showing that,”said Parrilli, whose administration always had close ties with the late President Hugo Chávez and with Maduro once he succeeded following his death.