The Lima Group raises the pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro. After a meeting in Buenos Aires, the foreign ministers of the American countries that comprise it, plus the European Union, endorsed the UN report on human rights violations in Venezuela, which speaks of 7,000 violent deaths during the last 18 months, and asked the Security Council to discuss its results. The intention of the Group has been to add the commitment of countries that today support Caracas politically, such as China and Russia.
The Lima Group was born to accompany the Venezuelan opposition in the search for a peaceful solution to the political and economic crisis that the Caribbean country is going through. Since then, he concentrated his efforts on supporting Juan Guaidó, the man they see as Maduro's natural successor. Guaidó was not in Buenos Aires, but he spoke to the foreign ministers by videoconference at the end of six months since the opposition leader swore before a crowd as president in charge. In a brief message, Guaidó highlighted the regional support for the transition, recalled the seriousness of the results of the UN report and gave as an example of the crisis the blackout that since Monday afternoon keeps a good part of Venezuela in the dark. The opposition leader also thanked "all the effort that the countries of the Lima Group are making to house Venezuelans" who fled their country, about four million, according to UN statistics.
The meeting was a renewed support for Guaidó, at a time when opposition pressure against Maduro seems to have entered a plateau. "We have talked with Guaido, who is six months in office and we have renewed our full support in his struggle to recover democracy in Venezuela," said Peru's Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio. The meeting concluded with a 15-point document in which the foreign ministers ratified the regional dimension attributed to the crisis in Caracas.
At the opening of the meeting, the foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, said that the situation is "the most traumatic episode of institutionality and peace in recent decades," a threat that "compromises regional and international security." Hence the call to the UN Security Council, composed of the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. It is the council that discusses, for example possible military interventions in third countries. The Lima Group "believes that the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights leaves no room for some countries to continue supporting Maduro's illegitimate regime," says the text, read by Faurie to journalists.
The Argentine Foreign Minister asked for early elections, a constant claim from the Lima Group, as the only way out for "the restoration of the democratic order in Venezuela." Argentina is, together with Peru and Brazil, one of the countries that most press for an orderly exit from Maduro. In the previous meeting, the government of Mauricio Macri said he will receive complaints from Venezuelan exiles about human rights violations that he will then forward to international organizations. Guaidó celebrated the initiative.
In addition to the representative of Venezuela before Argentina, Elisa Trotta, and Foreign Minister Faurie, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana and Peru participated in the meeting in Buenos Aires. Canada, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Saint Lucia sent representatives and Ecuador and El Salvador joined for the first time as observers. Enrique Iglesias, special advisor for Venezuela participated in the European Union. The Lima Group is named after the capital that hosted the first meeting two years ago. The intention of the founders was to avoid the blockade in the OAS, where countries like Bolivia and Ecuador refused to condemn Maduro and the presence of the United States gave arms to Caracas to flatly reject the statements.