US lauds Guyana’s support in calling for democracy in Venezuela
The United States has commended Guyana for joining the Lima Group of countries, of which it is a member, in calling for democracy to be restored in Venezuela.
“Great to see Guyana add its voice for the call to restore democracy in Venezuela. The US encourages all democratic countries to commit to helping the Venezuelan people achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future,” Acting Assistant Secretary for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ambassador Michael Kozak, said in a tweet on Saturday.
Kozak was vocal over the past months in calling for the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition to respect the will of Guyanese and allow for democracy to prevail in Guyana, which was embroiled in a political and electoral impasse following the March 2 elections.
The prolonged electoral process finally came to an end earlier this month when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was sworn-in to office after obtaining over 15,000 votes more than the coalition.
Ambassador Kozak’s social media post on Guyana’s support for democracy to also prevail in its Spanish-speaking neighbour was made in light of a joint statement from a group of concerned countries, including members of the Lima Group, the International Contact Group, the European Union, and the United States.
In fact, since the PPP/C was declared the winner of the general elections, it has joined with other countries and groups to call for an interim government for Venezuela.
They are calling on all Venezuelans, of all ideological tendencies and party affiliations, whether civilian or military, to put the interests of Venezuela above politics and engage urgently in support of a process shaped and driven by Venezuelans to establish an inclusive transitional government that will lead the country into free and fair presidential elections, sooner not later.
In addition, the Lima Group cautioned Venezuelans against merely seeing National Assembly elections as a solution to the political and socio-economic crisis in the country.
“National Assembly elections alone do not present a political solution and instead may further polarise an already divided society. We call upon all institutions of the Venezuelan State to participate in such a process.”
This is not the first time the PPP/C Administration has backed the US’s position. Previously, it has supported the American nominee for the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). President Irfaan Ali stated that the IDB presidency should always be held by a Latin American.
On the other hand, the APNU/AFC coalition had rejected the US’s request earlier this year to use Guyana’s medium-wave frequencies to beam Voice of America radio programmes to Venezuela.
“Nevertheless, Venezuelans and the international community have put proposals on the table towards an interim regime. Such a process should include the ability of the National Assembly to fully carry out its functions and the restoration of the independence of the Supreme Court and National Electoral Council,” the joint missive stated.
It further detailed that the humanitarian, social and political situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, underlining the need for a peaceful and inclusive political process that will restore democracy and set the country on course for recovery.
According to the “group of concerned countries”, the current pandemic and Venezuela’s overwhelmed public health-care system have added urgency to the need to end the status quo.
“We are committed to continue our efforts to assist Venezuelans facing the pandemic and the previously existing humanitarian crisis on the basis of need, not political affiliation.”
On this note, they call for an end to all political persecution and acts of repression. Human rights defenders, humanitarian actors, health workers, Journalists, members of Venezuela’s Indigenous communities, members of the National Assembly under the leadership of Juan Guaidó, and the Venezuelan population at large have all faced increased repression in Venezuela.
Guaidó is recognised by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Nevertheless, the “group of concerned countries” further call on all political parties and institutions in Venezuela to engage promptly in, or in support of, a process that will establish a broadly-acceptable transitional government that will administer free and fair presidential elections soon and begin to set the country on a pathway to recovery.
“For a peaceful and sustainable resolution of the crisis, a transitional government is needed to administer presidential elections, so that no candidate has an improper advantage over others. A swift and peaceful transition to democracy is the most effective and sustainable route to stability, recovery, and prosperity in Venezuela. We remain committed to helping the Venezuelan people achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future,” they stated.
To this end, it was reiterated in the statement that all those countries maintaining economic sanctions on Venezuela are willing to discuss relief in the context of political progress.