Trudeau reaches out to Cuba on behalf of Lima Group to end Venezuela crisis
Leaders 'discussed ways they could work together to support a peaceful resolution,' PMO says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Miguel Diaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, spoke about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela on Friday and how they could work together to resolve the crisis gripping the rich South American country.
"The prime minister, on behalf of the Lima Group, underscored the desire to see free and fair elections and the constitution upheld in Venezuela," said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
"The prime minister also reiterated his concern for the ongoing suffering of the Venezuelan people. The two leaders discussed ways they could work together to support a peaceful resolution to the crisis."
Venezuela has been wracked by hyper-inflation, food shortages and intense crime since Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013. Maduro's government accuses the U.S. and others of launching an "economic war" against Venezuela, blaming it for most of the country's problems.
The Lima group was formed in the summer of 2017 and includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and Saint Lucia.
The group has been working to support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, the democratically elected leader of the opposition in Venezuela's National Assembly, who declared himself interim president of the country earlier this year.
Since the Lima Group was formed Mexico has elected a new president, changed its policy towards Venezuela and no longer attends group meetings.
After Andrés Manuel López Obrador assumed office in December 2018 Mexico has demonstrated public neutrality towards Maduro, even inviting him to Mexico for Obrador's inauguration — according to media reports, Maduro did not attend the ceremony but did go to a dinner hosted by Obrador.
Canada and the Lima Group have condemned the Maduro regime as autocratic and Illegitimate. They say his hold on power is based on fraudulent and undemocratic elections held in May 2018.
Other countries not in the Lima Group, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain have also recognized Guaido and say they will continue to unless free and democratic elections are held in the country.
Bolivia, Cuba, Turkey and Russia, among others, have not followed suit and continue to back Maduro as the rightful president, accusing the U.S. and others of interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs.
Trudeau's outreach to Cuba on behalf of the Lima Group marks a new development in Canada's ongoing efforts to find a solution to the crisis.
- This story has been updated from an earlier version to reflect Mexico's changing policy towards Venezuela after the Dec. 2018 inauguration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.May 06, 2019 11:26 AM ET