Maduro’s unexpected arrival prompt
a clash at Mexico CELAC
Lacalle Pou, Presidente de Uruguay. Uruguay president exposed the brutal repression of the Díaz Canel,
Maduro and Ortega regimes.
- Paraguay, president criticize the Venezuelan leader
- Brazil suspended its participation in CELAC meetings last year
By Matthew Bristow / Bloomberg
Petroleumworld 09 20 2021
The unexpected last-minute appearance in Mexico City of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a regional summit triggered a clash with leaders allied to the U.S. and revived the ideological split between governments in Latin America.
Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez opened his speech at the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, by reiterating that he doesn’t regard the Venezuelan leader’s rule as legitimate.
Desde muy temprano nos dirigimos al Palacio Nacional de México para asistir a la VI Cumbre de Jefas y Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno de la CELAC. Hermoso El Zócalo y sus alrededores, llenos del colorido y de cultura, con motivo de la independencia mexicana. ¡Pendientes! pic.twitter.com/jG0qnFKc8a
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro)
September 18, 2021
“My presence at this summit in no way represents an acknowledgment of the government of Nicolas Maduro,” Benitez said. “There is no change in my government’s stance and I believe that the gentlemanly thing to do is to tell you that to your face.”
Benitez and several other U.S.-allied regional governments don’t recognize the Venezuelan government as legitimate due to irregularities surrounding Maduro’s re-election in 2018. Uruguay’s leader Luis Lacalle slammed the lack of democracy in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Maduro responded by challenging Benitez and Lacalle to a debate on democracy, in Paraguay, Venezuela or elsewhere in the region. This was Maduro’s first trip abroad since the the U.S. indicted him on drug trafficking charges last year, and offered a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
While the meeting was ongoing, Colombia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry published a statement attacking Maduro’s lack of “democratic principles”.
Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who hosted the meeting, said CELAC could become the main instrument for bringing the nations of the region together. Through it, governments of the region can build “something resembling the economic community that was the origin of the current European Union,” Lopez Obrador said.
Lopez Obrador and other leftist leaders see CELAC as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States, which excludes Cuba. But his vision was undermined by the absence of key players, particularly the government of Brazil, the region’s most powerful country, which suspended its participation in CELAC meetings last year.
Argentina’s leader Alberto Fernandez canceled his trip to Mexico deal with the nation’s domestic political crisis, while the presidents of Colombia and Chile also didn’t attend.
— With assistance by Nacha Cattan