Address by Foreign Affairs Minister at a press conference to close the 10th Lima Group Meeting
February 4, 2019 - Ottawa, Canada
Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.
Thank you for joining us here on the traditional territory of the Algonquin.
At this critical and historic time for Venezuela and the Americas as a whole, I am grateful to all those who are in Ottawa today for this important meeting.
The Maduro regime has violated Venezuela’s constitutional law and created an economic and political crisis that threatens the lives of millions of Venezuelans. We are all well aware of the challenge ahead.
For the past two years, the world has watched with great concern as Venezuela, under Nicolás Maduro’s rule, has descended into chaos.
Millions have fled the country. And millions more are suffering as a result of severe shortages of food, medicine, and the basic necessities of life.
Throughout all of this, the international community has been vocal in standing up for the rights of Venezuelans.
Today, we have been joined by our Lima Group partners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia.
We have also been joined by partners from other countries for this Lima Group ministerial meeting. These include: Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
And we have also heard from Julio Borges of Venezuela’s Primero Justicia party, Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard’s Center for International Development, and Gustavo Garcia of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Everyone here today wants the same thing for Venezuela—a peaceful transition to democracy, free and fair elections, a return of political accountability and transparency, and respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Venezuelans.
In this spirit, we are delighted that the National Assembly and the interim president, on behalf of the Venezuelan people, have requested to become members of the Lima Group. Today, we have taken the important step of welcoming the interim government as a full member of the Lima Group.
We also reiterate our deep concern about the serious crisis facing the Venezuelan people and neighbouring countries.
That is why, earlier today, the Prime Minister announced $53 million for humanitarian and development assistance. Canadian funding will go to trusted partners. It will be used to meet the basic needs of the most affected people, such as migrants and refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries. This includes providing emergency food assistance and improving access to health care, water and sanitation, education and protection.
I am also pleased that today we are publishing the “Ottawa Declaration for Venezuela.” The principles we are all endorsing are focused on the Venezuelan people’s just and peaceful aspirations.
We, the Lima Group, call on all democratic countries around the world— particularly those that have recognized Juan Guaidó as interim president—to endorse this declaration of support for the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela’s National Assembly and interim president Guaidó have charted a constitutional path forward to establish an interim government. And as of this hour, 34 countries have recognized Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, in line with Venezuela’s constitution.
Whether here in Ottawa, or in capitals around the world, it is ever more clear that the international consensus is on the side of democracy. On the side of peace. On the side of the Venezuelan people.
The Lima Group first met in August of 2017. Our work is far from over. Now is the time to strengthen our resolve and to stand firmly behind the people of Venezuela—with the full participation of their interim government in the Lima Group.
I very much thank everyone for travelling to Ottawa so we can work together to help bring peace and prosperity back to Venezuela.
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