Without the presence of the region’s top two headline-grabbers, the Summit of the Americas took place in Peru this weekend. President Mauricio Macri, along with his regional counterparts who are also critical of the actions being carried by Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, did not manage to have a statement of concern regarding the crisis that continues to unfold in the Caribbean country, or its upcoming elections deemed illegitimate by a large portion of the international community, included in the Summit’s final document.
Nonetheless, the leaders did deliver harsh speeches regarding the situation at the main meeting, and issued a condemnatory statement through the Lima Group. In it, the heads of state and government of 16 countries listed seven requests, the first of them being a call “on the Venezuelan government to hold presidential elections with the necessary guarantees for a free, fair, transparent, and democratic process, without political prisoners, including the participation of all Venezuelan political actors; and ratify that elections that do not meet these conditions will attack legitimacy and credibility.”
You can read the rest of the statement below.
Al concluir #CumbrePerú, el secretario interino John Sullivan respondió una pregunta sobre las elecciones en Venezuela: “Las elecciones en Venezuela … están expresamente diseñadas para reprimir la voluntad del pueblo venezolano.”
Declaración del Grupo Lima sobre Venezuela: pic.twitter.com/MnxVnnC90O
— USA en Español (@USAenEspanol) April 15, 2018
In his eight minute speech, Macri reiterated that Argentina will not acknowledge the result of the elections. “The right of the Venezuelan people to choose freely is trumped, there are political prisoners and no minimum guarantees of transparency. Argentina will not acknowledge any process of the kind, that is not a democratic election,” Macri said. “We have to keep working together toward a true democratic outcome in Venezuela,” he added.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos echoed his words, saying the creation of the Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly was the “last blow to the democracy” of the Caribbean country. And considering that the regime wants to “perpetuate itself in power,” he called all presents to not acknowledge the elections. Brazilian President Michel Temer also issued a similar statement.
The heads of state of Canada, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil also made a direct reference to the Venezuelan crisis in their speeches. And so did American Vice President Mike Pence – replacing Donald Trump at the meeting – who said his government will not “look on while Venezuela falls apart. President Trump believes it is time to do more. We must all support our brothers and sisters in Venezuela,” he said.
However, not all shared that stance. And that was the main reason why a statement of concern was not included in the final document – which solely focused on listing measures and goals towards fighting corruption, officially the main theme of the summit. The recent resignation of former Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in connection with corruption accusations as well as the sprawling Odebrecht scandal that has gripped Brazilian and to a lesser extent, Latin American politics as a whole, hung in the air throughout the whole summit. Bolivian President Evo Morales, for example, said it was unfortunate that “brother Maduro is not sitting” with them at the summit, claiming that it was mainly a result of “pressures from the United States.”
In fact, Morales provided Maduro with a platform to answer to the criticism, as he visited him in Venezuela on Sunday, a day after the summit ended. “I will teach a lesson to the puppets of imperialism: Macri, Temer and Santos will be defeated,” Maduro said. Moreover, he claimed to believe that “the summit in Lima looked like the beginning of the end of the summits of the Americas, due to the political and ideological intolerance.”
The elections in Venezuela are set to take place on May 20.