April 21, 2019
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Lima Group urges China, Russia to help restore democracy in Venezuela

Santiago, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- The Lima Group on Monday called on the international community to contribute to the reestablishment of democracy in Venezuela and urged China, Cuba, Russia and Turkey to join this effort "due to the negative impact" that their support for the Nicolas Maduro regime is having in Latin America.

In the final declaration issued after the 12th summit of the foreign ministers of the Lima Group nations, held on Monday in Santiago, the body also exhorted international organizations to move forward with recognizing the representatives designated by Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly - or Parliament - as the legitimate representatives of that country.

In addition, the entity called on the states participating in the international Contact Group, "regional partners" such as Mexico, Uruguay and Bolivia, and other members of the international community to deepen the process of alignment with the Lima Group to demand that free, fair and transparent elections be held in Venezuela.

The Lima Group also called on the international community to continue implementing sanctions against the "illegitimate regime (of Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro" and to place the assets belonging to the Venezuelan people exclusively at the disposal of interim President Juan Guaido, who is the head of Parliament.

Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero, who was tasked with reading aloud the final declaration resulting from the summit, also exhorted "the secretary-general of the United Nations, the General Assembly and the Security Council to take action to prevent the progressive deterioration of peace and security" in Venezuela.

In addition, the group called on those actors to "provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the population and the migrants coming from Venezuela."

It also urged the International Court of Justice at The Hague to look into potential "crimes against humanity by the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro."

The Lima Group reiterated its support for "a peaceful process of recovering democracy and the state of law" in Venezuela led by the Venezuelans themselves, condemned "the use of force on the part of the illegitimate Maduro regime" and rejected any threat or course of action that implies "military intervention."

The group also said it holds Maduro "personally responsible" for the "life, liberty and (physical) integrity" of Juan Guaido and the other members of Parliament.

The foreign ministers of the Lima Group member states gathered in the Chilean capital Monday with the intention of drawing up concrete measures to bring a democratic and non-violent end to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela which, according to top Chilean diplomat Roberto Ampuero, has worsened.

Ampuero, who was hosting what was the 12th such meeting of foreign ministers, said that not only had the humanitarian crisis been exacerbated but so had the migrant crisis stemming from the struggling, oil-rich nation.

"The humanitarian situation in this country has worsened due to the lack of food and medicine. Another element that is worsening is the migrant crisis, which is having a huge impact on Venezuela's neighbors," Ampuero said.

The Chilean foreign minister denounced what he said was increased harassment directed towards Guaido, who rose to international prominence in January when he declared himself interim president in what was a direct challenge to Maduro.

Guaido was sworn in just as Maduro began his second term despite not being recognized by many international governments due to doubts surrounding his re-election victory.

Maduro's government does not recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly, where Guaido is the majority leader, although the majority of the international community does.

Ampuero said this kind of harassment was now also affecting Guaido's advisors.

Over 50 nations, including the United States, a dozen Latin American countries and most of the European Union, has recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate interim president. Several others, namely Russia, Cuba and Bolivia, have defended Maduro.

Asked whether military intervention in Venezuela was being considered as an option, Ampuero said: "The policy of the Lima Group is very clear in that it seeks a democratic, non-violent political solution to the tragedy with is befalling the Venezuelan people."

Monday's Lima Group meeting will include the foreign ministers of Argentina, Jorge Faurie; Brazil, Ernesto Araujo; Canada, Christya Freeland; Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo; Costa Rica, Manuel Ventura, and Peru, Nestor Popolizio.

Honduras and Panama will be represented by their deputy foreign ministers and Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Paraguay and St. Lucia by ambassadors and other officials.

Julio Borges, Guaido's representative to the Lima Group, will also be present.

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