International Contact Group on Venezuela

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The 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis over the legitimacy of claims to the Venezuelan presidency by Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro was addressed at the International Conference on the Situation in Venezuela, a gathering of states that took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 7, 2019. The International Contact Group on Venezuela was formed at the meeting, which was co-sponsored by the governments of Mexico and Uruguay. Other participants were Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Panama, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

History
  • The 30 January 2019 announcement of the International Conference on the Situation in Venezuela, sponsored by the governments of Mexico and Uruguay, was made. It was in reaction to the general appeal for dialogue made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in respect to the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, according to a statement released by the Uruguayan foreign ministry. Mexico and Uruguay chose not to accept the stance adopted by other Mercosur and Lima Group nations, which supported Guaido’s assertion of the National Assembly of Venezuela’s right to the acting presidency. They demanded a “new process of inclusive and credible negotiations with full respect for the rule of law and human rights” instead.
  • The meeting was to be open to delegations from nations that had adopted a “neutral” stance regarding the situation in Venezuela, according to the first notice made by its sponsors. Later, it was stated that the conference was held in order to establish a contact group.
  • Officials from eleven states were initially expected to participate, according to the Mexican government. According to France24, participating nations would also include Sweden, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain in addition to Mexico and Uruguay.
  • Critics of Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez claim he has a conflict of interest in the Venezuelan issue because his son, Javier Vazquez, is alleged to have made millions of dollars in deals with Chavismo, according to Jorge Castaeda Gutman, former Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico under President Vicente Fox. They are questioning why Uruguay has adopted a different stance on Venezuela than the majority of Latin American nations in the Lima Group. In a statement, the secretary of the Uruguayan presidency called the accusations “a cruel and unfounded operation” and said that authorities had looked into the president’s son’s business but had discovered no proof of any wrongdoing.

Ministerial Declaration

  • On February 2, the International Contact Group (ICG) convened a ministerial level videoconference. Chile and the Dominican Republic joined as full members for the first time, which was warmly welcomed by the Group.
  • ICG members express concern about the situation in Venezuela and urge local political figures and civil society to take swift, sincere action to address the severe political, economic, and social crises the nation is currently experiencing.
  • ICG members reaffirm that the only way out of the crisis is to immediately resume political negotiations and to urgently establish a Venezuelan-led dialogue and transition process that will lead to credible, inclusive elections that are transparent and adhere to Venezuelan law and the provisions of the Constitution.
  • The nomination of an impartial and independent National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) will be a key component of that process. One of the measures required to remove all barriers to political involvement in order for genuine election processes to take place will be to take this action. Democracy cannot exist unless all parties agree to uphold fundamental electoral principles and the impartiality of the CNE.
  • ICG members urge the democratic opposition forces to unite as part of a larger, coordinated effort for further negotiation, which will include challenging concessions if Venezuela is to successfully make the transition to democracy, stability, and prosperity.
  • ICG members demand the protection of all civil and political rights. All political players should be free and safe, they demand, and house arrest should be lifted immediately and without conditions for all political prisoners. The problem is made worse by ongoing threats and retaliation against political figures, which adds more barriers to the peaceful restoration of democracy and the rule of law. ICG members are in favor of the opening of a permanent UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Venezuela.
  • The ICG members express their continued grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the nation and its neighbors, which has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to give urgently required access to food, petroleum, medications, and basic health services, including access to Covid-19 vaccinations, the ICG demands full, unrestricted, and unobstructed access for both humanitarian workers and products. Any choice that restricts humanitarian access even more needs to be changed. Venezuela must immediately put an end to the persecution of civil society organizations, human rights advocates, and media outlets.
  • The international community needs to come together to support Venezuela now more than ever. For the purpose of fostering a shared understanding and reaction to the situation in Venezuela, the ICG declares its continued desire to enhance relations with regional and global partners. For Venezuelans to reestablish democracy and the rule of law, concerted foreign initiatives are essential. Additionally, close communication with national stakeholders will continue.

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