Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is attending an emergency meeting of the Lima Group in Peru today, as Venezuela is sinking back into political stalemate following a failed military coup attempt by the Western-backed opposition.
The pre-dawn military uprising on Tuesday, urged on by opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, failed to gain momentum as security forces loyal to President Nicolás Maduro cracked down on opposition demonstrators and the military’s top brass made a show of loyalty to the embattled socialist leader.
Tens of thousands took to the streets across the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, heeding Guaido’s call to keep the pressure on Maduro. Clashes with security forces left four dead, along with hundreds injured or detained.
“Over the past few days, the Venezuelan people have once again shown their strength, courage and determination, calling for the end of the Maduro dictatorship and a return to democracy, despite the violent repression of the regime,” Freeland said in a statement.
“Canada remains steadfast in our support of interim president Juan Guaido and the National Assembly in their struggle for free and fair elections. Now is the time for Nicolas Maduro to step aside and allow for a peaceful end to this crisis.”
Guaido, the head of the opposition-run National Assembly, has been recognized as the South American country’s legitimate leader by more than 50 countries, including Canada, the United States and Spain.
Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, who retains the support of Russia, Cuba and China, calls Guaido a U.S.-backed puppet seeking to orchestrate a coup against him.
The Venezuelan military has so far sided with Maduro, but the opposition believes that under the surface there are growing cracks. Guaido has promised an amnesty to soldiers who support a political transition.
A declaration adopted by the Lima Group meeting in Ottawa in February has called for “the immediate re-establishment of democracy in Venezuela through the holding of free and fair elections called by the legitimate authorities, according to international standards as soon as possible.”
With files from The Associated Press and Reuters