Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro is threatening to take action against countries that do not acknowledge the legitimacy of his 2017 election to a new six-year term, saying he will “apply the most urgent and crude diplomatic measures as punishment.”
Meanwhile, President Lenin Moreno announced Wednesday that Ecuador would not send an official delegation to Caracas for Maduro’s inauguration on Thursday, citing Venezuela’s failure to protect the human rights of its citizens.
Maduro’s threats are aimed at the Lima Group of Latin American nations whose members refuse to accept the legitimacy of the May 2017 election in which only 25.8 percent of voters showed up at the polls. The election was also condemned by international organizations, including the United Nations, due to the fact that Maduro had banned leading opposition parties from participating in the election as well as other irregularities.
The Lima Group, consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia, issued a joint statement calling on Maduro to cede power and open the way for a transitional government formed by leaders of the Venezuela National Assembly.
The Lima Group said its call for Maduro to step aside was based on its support of Venezuela’s National Assembly, which has called for new elections.
According to Assembly President Juan Guaido, legislators have “reaffirmed the illegitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as president.” He added, “As of January 10, he will be usurping the presidency and consequently this National Assembly is the only legitimate representative of the people,” he said. The assembly, a majority of which opposes Maduro, was installed in a December 2015 election in which 75 percent of voters turned out.
In his Wednesday threats to the Lima Group, Maduro claimed that voters had provided the legitimacy for his new six-year term. “To those who hope to break our will, make no mistake. Venezuela will be respected!” he said. “In fact, I demand that it be respected.”
Maduro said he has ordered Venezuela’s chancellor, Jorge Arreaza, to send protest notes to 13 of the 14 Lima Group countries, although the content of the notes was not disclosed.
In his announcement of Ecuador’s boycott of the inauguration, Moreno said that Maduro had “turned a blind eye” to the suffering of his people, refusing to take responsibility for deteriorating conditions that have forced more than two million to flee the country.