Guaidó left out in the cold at Gatineau Lima Group meeting

For the first time since Juan Guaidó’s auto-proclamation as so-called interim president of Venezuela in January 2019, a meeting of the Lima Group (with its numerous political statements) has failed to even mention his name. All previous meetings of this spurious organization served as pledges to bring Guaidó to power and seemed to constitute virtual swearing-in ceremonies. However, he has never been sworn in, except by himself, nor even come close. On February 20, despite the extremely cold weather (even by Canadian standards), people demonstrated at the Lima Group venue in Gatineau, Québec, and in cities across Canada. At the same time, a statement in English, French and Spanish was widely distributed to the public and the media from coast to coast. The message and demonstration slogans focused on the Trudeau government’s role as a US proxy in the Trump-led aggression against the legitimately elected President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.

This constitutes an important lesson for Canadians, who are refusing to give an inch to international and national pressure to convert the anti-imperialist sentiment of millions into a pathetic apologism for the Trudeau government’s actions. On the contrary, following on the Gatineau meeting’s relatively defensive posture, as the omission of Guaidó’s name suggests, Canadians must seize the opportunity to inform the public and demand that Canada withdraw from the Lima Group. In addition, as was also highlighted in the message from demonstrators, there is a desire to step up criticism of the Trudeau government for its domestic policies, such as those being implemented against First Nations peoples. These policies are in flagrant contradiction with the Lima Group’s self-serving, distorted principals of “democracy” and “human rights,” by which they want to judge Venezuela.

The Gatineau meeting was the first Lima Group meeting since the recent four-month anniversary of the uprising in Chile, the ongoing demonstrations in Haiti, and the massive demonstrations in Colombia – all met with thousands of arrests and with protesters wounded or murdered – and the appalling aftermath of the coup d’état against Evo Morales. Yet, the representatives of Chile, Haiti, Colombia and Bolivia, presided over by Trump’s main ally, Trudeau, were all there in Gatineau, judging Venezuela.

The Lima Group meeting in Gatineau once again insists on interfering in Venezuela and destabilizing it to provide pretexts for more sanctions from the US and Canada. Its declaration says:

“While the Venezuelan Constitution calls for parliamentary elections in 2020, democracy will be fully restored in Venezuela only through free, fair and credible presidential elections. This process must include an independent National Electoral Council, an un-biased Supreme Court, international support and observation, full press freedom and political participation of all Venezuelans.”

This arrogant, interventionist statement amounts to preparing the conditions for calling the elections a “fraud,” as no self-respecting country in the world would allow its electoral process to be decided upon in Canada, the US or any other country. To illustrate once again the self-serving nature of this statement, on the very day the declaration was issued the US-backed Bolivian government, installed by a coup d’état, ruled against Evo Morales running for the Senate in the upcoming elections.

Trudeau was rewarded by the Lima Group members with a special made-to-measure clause for him to “lead” on Venezuela, as part of his global search for a seat on the UN Security Council. The clause reads as follows:

“In the coming days and weeks, representatives of the Lima Group will engage in an intensive period of outreach and consultation with all countries that have an interest in the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.”

Trudeau is being mandated once again to do Trump’s dirty work, opportunistically using his ability to speak English and French – thus directly reach out to Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere – hoping to steal the international spotlight and gain votes at the UN for the Security Council seat Canada covets.

Yet, Canada does not deserve a seat on the Security Council. No country that is a faithful ally of the US on all international issues, and that has been severely criticized by UN bodies for its genocidal treatment of its Indigenous peoples, should get a seat at that table. Of the countries running in competition with Canada, Norway and Ireland, either would be preferable. The peoples of the world must not forget the Trudeau government’s role in Latin America and the Caribbean, the main thrust of which lately has been the attempt to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution by supporting the coup d’état against Bolivia’s elected president, thus enabling that country to join the Lima Group which, under Evo Morales, was impossible.

Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, and part of the current International Speaking Tour on Latin America. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond.

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