Peru's Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovín speaks next to Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (L), and Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin (R) during a news conference after a meeting to discuss elections in Venezuela, in Lima, Peru. (Photo via Reuters / Guadalupe Pardo)

Expressing misgivings about the current political context in Venezuela, Peru has indicated that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is no longer welcome at the April Summit of the Americas, a decision that has been supported by the Lima Group.

The Lima Group has also called for the scheduled April 22 presidential elections in Venezuela to be shelved and for a new date to be set. Those elections, the Lima Group urged, should be “democratic, transparent and credible, with the participation of all of Venezuelan political actors, with international observers and standards.” The Lima Group – comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia – reiterated that “elections that do not meet these conditions will lack legitimacy and credibility.”

Peru had invited Maduro last year to the Summit of the Americas, which is held under the umbrella of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The statement was issued yesterday after a meeting in Lima of foreign ministers and representatives of Lima Group states. The Lima Group couched its decision to declare Maduro no longer welcome on the basis of the OAS’s Quebec Declaration of 2001, which notes that any “unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process.”

The Lima Group also pointed to a recent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) report denouncing human rights violations in Venezuela and added that “there cannot be free and fair elections with political prisoners, without the full participation of the political parties and leaders that have been arrested or arbitrarily disqualified, with an electoral authority that is under government control.” They also objected to the fact that millions of Venezuelans abroad would not be able to vote and that the actions of the Constituent Assembly, which called for the vote, were not considered legitimate by the Lima Group.

In addition, the Lima Group countries called for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Venezuela and promised coordination to meet the increase in Venezuelan migration in a “orderly, with solidarity, and safe way.”

The decision by the Lima Group comes soon after the travel by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the region, calling for increased pressure on Caracas, and after the confirmation that the Venezuelan elections would be held on April 22nd.

The response from Caracas to the latest round of criticism has been muted so far, but Bolivian President Evo Morales today used his Twitter account to defend his ally, attack Washington and express disappointment with his Latin American neighbors.