SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera suggested on Monday to the Lima Group that they seek greater unity with the Contact Group on Venezuela sponsored by the European Union, although he rejected the option of reopening the dialogue between the opposition and the regime of Nicolas Maduro.
“I think that it’s very important to seek to broaden this Group and seek more coordination and more unity with the Contact Group. If there are two groups that have the same objectives, the same principles, let’s join forces,” said Piñera as a breakfast with the foreign ministers and other officials of the Lima Group nations, who met on Monday in Santiago.
The Contact Group, in which Spain is participating along with seven other EU members as well as Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Bolivia, has already met at the ministerial level in Montevideo and Quito with all the parties in the Venezuelan political crisis.
The Chilean leader noted that there are “other groups” who are seeking “the path of dialogue,” an option that – in his opinion – has been tried in Venezuela for a long time without obtaining results.
“Reopening dialogue with a dictator is to let him gain more time and postpone the issue of recovering freedom, democracy and human rights in Venezuela,” he warned.
The Montevideo Mechanism, which was activated in February by Mexico, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and was later joined by Bolivia, is seeking a solution to the Venezuelan crisis via dialogue and negotiations.
Piñera praised the work undertaken – and the pressure exerted – by the Lima Group, made up of a dozen Latin American countries, but he added that “additional steps” must be taken to achieve tangible results.
“Our suggestion is to do everything possible so that humanitarian aid can enter (Venezuela) because it’s an issue – literally – of life or death for many residents in Venezuela,” Piñera said.
He also urged that international pressure be increased on the diplomatic, economic and political levels so that each day it will be more difficult “for the dictatorship to remain in power.”
“I’m convinced that the days of the dictator are numbered and are not many. There are many factors that are working in that direction. In the first place, the firm will of the Venezuelan people to recover their democracy and the international solidarity that is growing each day,” he added.
Participating in the meeting on Monday of the Lima Group were the foreign ministers of Argentina, Jorge Faurie; Brazil, Ernesto Araujo; Canada, Christya Freeland; Chile, Roberto Ampuero; Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo; Costa Rica, Manuel Ventura, and Peru, Nestor Popolizio.
Honduras and Panama were represented by their deputy foreign ministers and Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Paraguay and St. Lucia by ambassadors and other officials.
Also present at the meeting was Julio Borges, the diplomatic representative to the Lima Group appointed by Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled Venezuelan Parliament who is recognized by more than 50 nations as the country’s legitimate interim president.