Following political turmoil in Venezuela, Canada has joined 20 other countries that are in the Lima Group denouncing the current state of democracy in the South American country. The Lima Group met in Ottawa on Feb. 4 to discuss how to best address the current presidential crisis in Venezuela. In that meeting, Canadian representatives announced that the Trudeau Government would be sending $53 million to non-governmental organizations in the region.
The legitimacy of the presidency of the country has been brought into question by the opposition government led by Juan Guaidó who has since taken a public oath that declares him to be interim president. The Trudeau government along with the rest of the countries in the Lima Group support Guaidó claiming that they believe him to be the valid president of the country.
“We call on countries of the world to support the interim president Juan Guaidó, who is interim president based on the Venezuelan constitution itself,” Trudeau commented on the matter.
The conflict arose after Guaidó accused the previous leader Nicolás Maduro of rigging the election and having illegitimate election results. On Jan. 23 Guaidó called for Venezuelans to protest the Maduro government. This large protest followed a series of smaller protests that started after Maduro was sworn in on Jan. 10 of this year. There have been 43 reported deaths since the protests started with nearly 1000 arrests made.
Unfortunately people that find themselves on the same side as Canada’s official stance on the subject face the problem of the Venezuelan military. The military has decided to stay on the side of Maduro. It is still unclear what will unfold.
Maduro claims that Guaidó is an agent of the United States who is working to undermine his regime in order to guarantee oil for the country.
“This campaign has been prepared to justify a coup d’etat in Venezuela,” Maduro said in a Facebook video at the end of January.
“Venezuela has a solid democracy. We have our problems, as any other country and we will solve them by ourselves,” he added. “In our country, there is the largest certified oil reserve in the world. And the eyes of those who lead the empire in the United States want to put their hands on it as they did in Iraq and in Libya.”
The money Canada is committing to the crisis will not be given directly towards the Guaidó office, but rather to trusted NGOs.
“We know that the people in Venezuela are facing tremendous hardship and they need our help. As do the countries taking in those fleeing violence,” Trudeau said in a press conference.
It remains vague regarding which NGOs will receive funding but most will be based in countries that neighbour Venezuela.