Venezuela threatens Lima Group nations with harsh measures

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a press conference on Jan. 9, 2019, in Caracas. EFE-EPA/ Miguel Gutierrez

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a press conference on Jan. 9, 2019, in Caracas. EFE-EPA/ Miguel Gutierrez


Venezuela on Wednesday threatened the countries of the Lima Group with “the most urgent and harshest diplomatic measures” if they do not adjust their stance regarding the Nicolas Maduro government, after they asked in their latest declaration that the Venezuelan leader not take office for a new six-year term.

“Today, this note of diplomatic protest was delivered to all the governments of the ‘Lima cartel,’ where we’re demanding a correction of their positions on Venezuela within 48 hours or the Venezuelan government will take the most urgent and harshest diplomatic measures for the defense of its sovereign integrity,” said Maduro at a press conference with international media.

On Wednesday morning, the Venezuelan government - via Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza - delivered notes of protests to 13 of the 14 countries comprising the Lima Group, although the content of those missives was not publicly divulged.

Maduro has said that on Thursday he will take the oath of office as president after winning reelection in last May’s controversial balloting, in which most of the opposition did not participate because they considered the vote to be fraudulent and because their main leaders were either barred from competing or imprisoned.

The anti-Chavismo forces and several other countries have warned that they will not recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s leader starting on Thursday, when what they call the “usurpation” of the country’s presidency begins.

But Maduro has responded to those statements by saying that he will not accept “blackmail” on the matter and will take office with the support of the people, the military and the several countries - including Turkey, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia - that back him.

The Lima Group also asked Maduro last Friday to respect the sovereignty of his neighbors, referring to the seizure by Venezuela of two Exxon Mobil oil tankers in Guyanese waters, waters which Caracas claims for itself.

This latest call was rejected by Maduro, who warned that it was intended to harm the country’s sovereignty.

Maduro said Wednesday that the Lima Group “wasted its time” and that the declaration in its entirety was an attack on the principles of international law.

The Lima Group is a multilateral body that was established following the Lima Declaration on Aug. 8, 2017, in the Peruvian capital, where representatives of 12 countries met to try and devise a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Venezuela.