Venezuela’s neighbours try to put financial pressure on Maduro

10 Aug 2017   Venezuela

In a move that may have significant economic repercussions, a group of 12 countries from across the Americas refused on Tuesday to recognise Venezuela’s new constituent assembly or any laws that it passes governing future oil joint ventures or debt issues.  The declaration by Canadian and Latin American foreign ministers is the latest sign of Caracas’ growing international isolation. It came on the same day that the UN slammed the government of President Nicolás Maduro for human rights violations, including the death of at least 73 opposition protesters.  Mr Maduro convoked the constituent assembly in what he claims is an attempt to resolve the nation’s multiple crises, but critics insist it is a power grab. Since its installation on Friday, the assembly has taken over the opposition-dominated and democratically elected National Assembly, ousted the attorney-general, established a “truth commission”, and passed decrees pledging “support and solidarity” with the unpopular president.  “There are two points to stress,” Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, said from Lima, where the foreign ministers’ meeting was held. “The first is our full support for the National Assembly. The second is that we do not recognise rulings [by the constituent assembly] that the Venezuelan constitution requires the National Assembly to pass.”  Under the current constitution, National Assembly approval is required for all debt issues and energy joint ventures, including those that Caracas hopes to sign with Russian state-energy company Rosneft. The so-called Lima declaration, which “condemns the rupture of Venezuela’s democratic order”, was signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

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