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Lima Group with a plan for the day after eyes recovery aid for Venezuela

 


 

By Argus


OTTAWA

Petroleumworld 02 05 2019

The Lima Group of countries supporting Venezuela's acting president Juan Guaidó is promising to quickly mobilize resources to restore that country's collapsing economy and oil sector.

The immediate priority for now is to force sitting president Nicolas Maduro to cede power and to provide humanitarian aid for Venezuelans battered by acute shortages of food, medicine and fuel. But discussions already are underway about longer-term economic recovery efforts, Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said today at the conclusion of the Lima Group ministerial in Ottawa.

"We devoted a considerable amount of time to talking about how the Lima group and the international community broadly can support reconstruction," Freeland said. "It is important to have a plan for the day after."

Lima Group members will work together with the US, European countries, the World Bank and the IMF to put together an economic recovery plan, Peruvian foreign minister Néstor Popolozio said. The Lima Group is comprised of 13 Latin American countries plus Canada. Representatives from leading EU states, the US and Ecuador joined the meeting today.

"Addressing the economic and humanitarian crisis devastating Venezuela will require broad support from the international community," IMF deputy managing director David Lipton said yesterday. Venezuela's economy has shrunk by half since 2013 and hyperinflation is in the millions of percent. Oil production has fallen by half since 2017 to about 1.1mn b/d in December.

Estimates for Venezuela's humanitarian and reconstruction needs range from $60bn and higher. An estimated 4mn Venezuelans have sought refuge abroad in recent years, with Colombia absorbing more than a quarter of the total.

Today's ministerial meeting recognized Guaidó's nascent government as a full member of the Lima Group and promised to hold its next meeting, scheduled to take place in Colombia at an unspecified date, under the presidency of his designated representative.

Lima Group members today endorsed Guaidó's proposed roadmap for re-establishing an elected government in Caracas through a peaceful transition and holding elections at an earliest opportunity. The group also backed sanctions by the US and less restrictive measures imposed by other governments.

Guaidó's government secured another symbolic victory today after France, Germany, Spain, the UK and other major European states recognized his claim to the interim presidency. There are now 34 countries recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela's interim leader, Freeland said.

But Maduro shows no signs of capitulating, and has rallied senior military ranks behind him. The Lima Group called on the Venezuelan armed forces to recognize Guaidó's authority and not to interfere with plans to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela's borders and distribute it inside the country.

Freeland said Canada is not considering a military intervention or a role for the Canadian military in distributing such assistance.

"The best way for delivering aid (into Venezuela) depends on each country's disposition," Popolozio said.

US president Donald Trump in a televised interview yesterday reiterated that a US military intervention remains under consideration. Trump said he turned down Maduro's repeated requests for a meeting, "because we are very far along in the process."

The talk of military intervention may be part of a pressure campaign aimed to convince Maduro to step down. The US has advised its citizens against travel to Venezuela, but it maintains a diplomatic presence in Caracas. Daily flights between the US and Venezuela continue as before.

 


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