Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photo via Reuters / Marco Bello)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has promised to attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima, challenging Peru’s decision to withdraw the invitation to the meeting.

Reacting to Lima’s decision to consider Maduro no longer welcome at the summit, the Venezuelan president yesterday made it clear that he has no intention of accepting the decision.

“Are they afraid of me? They don’t want to see me in Lima? They’re going to see me, whether it rains, thunders or lightning strikes, by land or by sea I’ll be at the Summit of the Americas with Venezuela’s truth. You can be sure of that. Why are you so scared of me? We will all meet. You all can’t handle our truth? I am not scared of you all.” said Maduro at a press conference with international correspondents.

The Venezuelan president also took the opportunity to criticize the members of the Lima Group, which backed Peru’s decision to exclude Caracas. “In Venezuela the Lima Group isn’t in charge, the people are. They are going to shrivel up, they’re the most unpopular governments in the Americas. They want to repeat with Venezuela the mistreatment that they did to our ally Cuba.”

The Lima Group met earlier this week, as a result of which Peru indicated that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would no longer be welcome at the Summit of the Americas, arguing that there had been a breakdown of the normal functioning of democratic institutions in Venezuela. Controversial early presidential elections, and the terms of those elections, have been cited by Lima as the reason for withdrawing its invitation.

Peru had invited Maduro last year to the Summit of the Americas, which will be held on the 13th and 14th of April, under the umbrella of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Lima Group – comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia – was also supported by a statement by the United States.

Backing Caracas, Bolivia and Cuba have denounced what they call meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Bolivian President Evo Morales in particular noted that the Lima Group does not constitute a majority of OAS countries. Habana has categorically rejected the decision, calling it contrary to United Nations and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) principles.

Maduro’s insistence on participating was met with an instant reply from Lima. In addition to formally sending Maduro a letter notifying him that he is no longer invited to the Sumit, Peruvian Prime Minister Mercedes Aráoz told a local radio station that Maduro “cannot enter neither Peruvian territory nor skies, he cannot enter because is not welcome. He has to understand that in Peru we do not want to host him.”

Separately, Maduro challenged President Mauricio Macri to organize a UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) summit. “I say to the Argentine president, Mauricio Macri, call a meeting, dare to do it, don’t be afraid of me. Call a meeting as president of the UNASUR a summit of UNASUR countries and I’ll go to that summit and we’ll be face to face and I’ll defend Venezuela’s truth.”

Such a meeting is unlikely.