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Last week, the European Union issued an ultimatum to the Maduro regime to announce “fair, free and transparent elections”, or else the bloc would recognize interim president Juan Guaido as the leader of the country.

The expiry of the ultimatum earlier today resulted in several European countries making good on their threat and issuing statements recognizing Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

As of approximately 1:00 PM EST time, the following 20 European countries had issued statements recognizing Guaido:

Caracas reacted to the wave of announcements through a statement shared on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its website. Part of the statement reads:

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its most energetic rejection of the decision adopted by some European Governments [sic], in which they officially adhere to the [U.S.] administration’s strategy of overthrowing the legitimate Government [sic] of President Nicolas Maduro which was elected in a sovereign, free and democratic manner by the Venezuelan People [sic].

(…)

The Government [sic] of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will fully revise its bilateral relations with those countries starting now, until [they] rectify [their position] to discount their support of the coupist plans and returns them towards [the principle of] strict respect for international law.

Lima Group Admits Venezuela as Trudeau Offers Relief Funds

The Lima Group met in Ottawa today to discuss the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland opened the meeting with a speech in which she said:

We have been clear that the peaceful restoration of democracy and the rebuilding of the country must be driven by Venezuelans. Canada, its partners in the Lima Group and the international community, of course, will continue to work in solidarity with Venezuelans as we have since the early days of this crisis.

The day-long meeting included an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who pledged $53 million in aid to Venezuela. Trudeau made the announcement by saying:

We know that the people of Venezuela are facing tremendous hardship, and they need our help, as do the countries who have taken in those fleeing violence. Today, Canada is stepping up an announcing $53 million to address the most pressing needs of Venezuelans on the ground, including the almost three million refugees. The bulk of the funds will go to trusted partners and neighbouring countries to help them support Venezuela and Venezuelans.

At the end of the meeting, the Group announced that it had admitted a new member: Venezuela, under the interim presidency of Juan Guaido.

The Group also stressed the fact that the political transition in Venezuela must be peaceful, “through political and diplomatic means without the use of force”.

Carter Centre Releases Updated Position on Venezuelan Elections

The Carter Centre–a U.S.-based human rights NGO–released an updated position on the state of elections in Venezuela today. The update follows comments from the Centre’s founder, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who said in 2012 that “the election process in Venezuela” is the best in the world”.

In today’s statement, the Carter Centre stresses that Venezuela is living through “an historic moment”, and that the opposition-controlled National Assembly was “freely elected” in 2015.

Referring to ongoing attempts to grant legitimacy to the electoral process in Venezuela by citing Carter’s 2012 comments, the statement reads:

In discussions about the status of democracy and elections in Venezuela, some have made misleading comments about the Carter Center’s past involvement in elections there.

“In 2012, I applauded Venezuela’s use of electronic voting machines as exemplary in the world,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “That characterization since has been misused by Nicolas Maduro to suggest a broad validation of Venezuela’s election system as a whole and of subsequent elections that The Carter Center did not observe. In fact, The Carter Center and others routinely have expressed concern about government interference in recent electoral processes. The Carter Center has not observed elections formally in Venezuela since 2004.”

The statement concludes:

The Carter Center supports the valiant efforts of the Venezuelan people to resolve a political conflict that has resulted in economic devastation, a humanitarian crisis, and an exodus of refugees. This is a critical juncture for the Venezuelan people who are calling for democracy.

National Assembly Moves to Appoint New Electoral Council

The National Assembly announced today that it would create a committee tomorrow to work on the creation of a new electoral council in the country, so that it may organize and oversee the presidential elections that are, at least theoretically, supposed to take place in the country in the short term.

The announcement came from deputy Juan Pablo Guanipa, who stressed that it is “impossible” to hold elections with the current Consejo Nacional Electoral [National Electoral Council, CNE] which is nakedly pro-Maduro. The CNE’s partisanship is perhaps most visible in the example of the 2017 Constituent Assembly election in which it simply made up the election results, according to the company that provided the voting machines for the event.

While Guanipa did not give a timeline for the appointing of the new CNE, he said that once in place it would organize and conduct the presidential election “as soon as possible”.

Maduro Marks 4F With Visit to Army Base

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the failed coup d’etat that shot Hugo Chavez to the national spotlight and left over 60 people dead. The coup ended when Chavez, recognizing that his rebel forces could not overcome those loyal to the government, ordered his soldiers to stand down and surrender. The date is celebrated by the PSUV as a kind of national holiday.

Maduro celebrated the event by visiting yet another military base and spending the day with members of the armed forces in a display that has become common over the last two weeks.

In the video below, Maduro and members of the PSUV including Diosdado Cabello, Delcy Rodriguez and Vladimir Padrino Lopez lead a column of soldiers on a march through a street in Aragua:

In the video below, Maduro and other PSUV leaders listen to a group of soldiers singing a military song:


Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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