Amid accusations that the recent elections in Venezuela lack any international merit, US President Donald Trump on Monday imposed new sanctions on the already crisis-ridden country, while urging its neighbor Guyana and the rest of the Lima group to limit their diplomatic ties with Maduro.
According to a 21 May report in the New York Times, Guyana and the rest of the Lima group, which also includes Brazil, Suriname, Argentina, and Colombia, among others has already said that they do not recognize the Venezuela elections results, thus immediately handing a severe credibility blow to Maduro’s recent victory.
President Trump, who commend the Lima group for their position, is of the view that the further isolation of Maduro from the international community would eventually make it clear to him that ‘support for his oppression of the Venezuelan people would not be condoned by the international community’.
In recent times, the US President had made it clear that he does not rule out taking military action against the Maduro government to force him from power.
However, most of the country’s neighbors, particularly Guyana and Brazil, are against any US military intervention in Venezuela, with Brazil repeatedly urging Trump to hold his hands.
Brazil and Guyana’s position was that attacking Venezuela would create an unmanageable refugee crisis which can see hundreds of thousands of ordinary Venezuelans pouring over their respective borders to escape a war; – a refugee situation that neither country can facilitate at this time.
Both countries, along with Colombia are already grappling with a daily influx of Venezuelans that are fleeing from the country’s growing economic crisis, and have even relaxed their respective immigration laws to allow Venezuelans to cross their borders without controls.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been battling several popular revolts against his rule, as the country continues to face an economic meltdown that has saw large-scale starvation and shortages of basic commodities including medicine, hitting down hard on many ordinary Venezuelans.
However, Maduro blamed the US and its allies for the crisis, which he says was triggered by their desire to illegitimately remove his government from power.
Amid the crisis, rather than bending to growing pressure to step down, the Venezuelan leader called a National election instead, which he says would have determined whether the people want him to continue as their President.
But that national election which was held last Sunday (20 May) with a less than 40% voter turn-out, was largely boycotted by the opposition, while the United Nations (UN) refused to send monitors, citing their belief that conditions for free and fair elections were not present.
Other countries that had also refused to send monitors had urged Maduro to call off the elections and set a new date, providing that a number of conditions were met, including removing of a ban on the main opposition party, and the release of his political opponents.
However, Maduro rejected these demands and went ahead with the election which has landed him another 6-year term as President.