Address by Foreign Affairs Minister to open 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.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered today on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin.
Thank you for joining us in Ottawa for this meeting of the Lima Group and our partners who support democracy and Venezuelans.
The situation in Venezuela has evolved dramatically in recent days and weeks.
The Maduro regime lost all remaining legitimacy when it took power in fraudulent and undemocratic elections on May 20, 2018. Following this fraudulent election, the Lima Group countries rejected the illegitimate mandate of the ruling regime.
At this critical and historic time for Venezuela and the Americas as a whole, we are all well aware of the challenge ahead. That is why we are here today.
Canada and the Lima Group recognize the rule of law, the Venezuelan Constitution and the will of the Venezuelan people. We recognize Juan Guaidó as interim president.
We are at a critical moment. For the first time in many years, Venezuela’s National Assembly and now interim president Guaido have charted a constitutional path forward to establish an interim government. We must do everything in our power to assist them in this effort.
Canada, the Lima Group and all of our international partners present today affirm our commitment to the people of Venezuela. I’m so pleased to have representatives here from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. And joining this Lima Group ministerial meeting are Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Thank you all for being here.
Together, we stand on the side of human rights. On the side of democracy. On the side of a peaceful, democratic and constitutionally based transition in Venezuela.
With one voice, we must make it abundantly clear to the international community that the existence of a dictatorship in the Americas will not be tolerated.
We have been clear that the peaceful restoration of democracy and the rebuilding of the country must be driven by Venezuelans. Canada, its partners in the Lima Group and the international community, of course, will continue to work in solidarity with Venezuelans as we have since the early days of this crisis.
That is why Canada—along with Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru—referred the situation in Venezuela to the International Criminal Court for investigation last September.
That is also why Canada has imposed targeted sanctions on 70 Maduro regime officials for gross violations of human rights, significant corruption or the deterioration of democracy.
The damage done to Venezuela’s economy and society is enormous. It will take years to recover. And the task of reconstruction will require an unwavering commitment from us all.
What we have seen in recent weeks, with thousands taking to the streets to defy the Maduro dictatorship, is a united people standing as one to say: enough.
Enough of the hardship. Enough of the chronic shortages of food and medicine. Enough of the disproportionate use of force to deny Venezuelans their democratic rights.
Change is happening now.
Canadians, and our government, have not wavered in our support for the people of Venezuela. In recent weeks, and over the past two years, our Prime Minister has worked incredibly hard to build international support for democracy and human rights in Venezuela. So it is my great pleasure to now introduce the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau.
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