Colombian ex-pres. urges Mexico to play peacemaker in Venezuela


Colombian former President Ernesto Samper said here Thursday that he would like to see Mexico take the lead in finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

He hailed Mexico for adopting the “respectable and respectful” stance of neutrality on the situation in Venezuela, “without taking part in the polarization that has done so much harm.”

“That position, in line with the Lima Group and in respect of the Venezuelan authorities, gives the Mexican government authority to insist on and advocate the diplomatic resolution that will benefit all parties,” Samper said at a press conference in Mexico City.

Citing provisions in the Mexican constitution that bar meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said repeatedly that his administration will not take sides in the struggle between Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has proclaimed himself interim chief executive.

“It is not the first time” that Mexico plays an important role in ending a crisis, Samper said, recalling that the Aztec nation hosted preliminary talks between the Colombia government and FARC guerrillas leading ultimately to a peace accord in November 2016.

Mexico should join with others, including Uruguay and Pope Francis, to assume responsibility for defusing the Venezuelan crisis, Samper said.

“Latin American problems shouldn’t be solved by Mr. (Donald) Trump and Mr. (Vladimir) Putin, they should be solved by us,” Samper said, referring to the US and Russian presidents, respectively.

The United States backs Guaido, while Russia is standing with Maduro.

Samper said he was glad to see the 13 Lima Group member-states who recognize Guaido reject force as an option in Venezuela.

Founded in the Peruvian capital in August 2017, the Lima Group comprises Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and St. Lucia.

But Mexico has declined to go along with recognizing Guaido.

Guaido and Maduro should sit down for talks to secure the “economic stabilization” of Venezuela, battered by US sanctions, and to establish a “timetable for early general elections,” the Colombian said.

“The problems with Venezuela should be solved by Venezuelans, with Venezuelans and in the Venezuelan manner, with the support of their neighbors and the participation of the United Nations,” Samper said.

Mexico is the largest and most important nation in the Americas that continues to recognize the government of Maduro, who attended the inauguration of Lopez Obrador as president on Dec. 1.