Venezuela’s pro-democracy movement has welcomed the decision by Canada and its allies to urge its country’s military to switch allegiance and support opposition leader Juan Guaido as the true leader of their country.
The declaration in the final Lima Group communique from Monday’s emergency meeting in Ottawa came two days after the defection of a top air-force general, once loyal to socialist president Nicolas Maduro.
The Lima Group’s meeting comes amid massive protests in Venezuela pressing Maduro to go.
The group built on that backing in its final communique by calling upon “the National Armed Forces of Venezuela to demonstrate their loyalty to the Interim President in his constitutional functions as their Commander in Chief.”
They also called on the armed forces “not to impede entry and transit of humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans.”
Guaido’s representative to Monday’s Ottawa meeting, Orlando Viera-Blanco, said the decision was a key step in freeing his country from its economic and political crisis and putting in on a road toward democracy.
“We have a huge relationship with different people in the army force. They are willing to collaborate and I am sure that this will be one of the most important events, topics, elements in order to accomplish a way out in Venezuela,” said Viera-Blanco, who has become the defacto ambassador to Canada of Venezuela’s interim government — whose authority Maduro rejects.
“We need more and more pressure on the top of the army corps, and in the top of the political dictatorship,” Viera-Blanco said.
Canada and the Lima Group of more than a dozen North and South American countries have backed Guaido as the legitimate replacement for Maduro, who followed leftwing populist Hugo Chavez into Venezuela’s presidency after Chavez’s death in 2013.