Mexico has called on the Lima group of Latin American countries to refrain from interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs, after the block refused to recognize President Nicolas Maduro as the nation’s legitimate leader.
Mexico, the only member of the 14-member group, who refused to sign the declaration, said it would not comment on the legitimacy of the government in Caracas.
“We call for reflection in the Lima Group about the consequences for Venezuelans of measures that seek to interfere in internal affairs,” said Mexico’s deputy foreign minister Maximiliano Reyes.
The bloc, who met in the Peruvian capital Lima on Friday, said “the electoral process carried out in Venezuela on May 20, 2018 is not legitimate.”
Maduro was re-elected in May, after an early election called by the ruling Constituent Assembly which was marred by accusations of irregularities as well as an opposition boycott.
In a joint statement, the bloc, however, called on Maduro not to take office later this month.
Mexico called on the group to work for mediation and dialogue, not isolation.
In the meantime, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed that Maduro would take office on January 10 in a “legitimate and constitutional” process, which he said “does not require the approval of any foreign government.”
Venezuela, he said, was “perplexed” by the statement and that the country would take reciprocal action for diplomatic steps taken by any other government.
Caracas has been facing mounting pressure from regional counties and United States which has targeted the nation with economic and political sanctions since 2014 under the pretext of alleged human rights abuses and threats to US national security.
Washington has recently stepped up contacts with South American countries. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Cartagena earlier this week for talks with Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Both officials agreed to step up efforts to diplomatically isolate Maduro’s government.
Maduro has repeatedly accused the US of being behind a plot to overthrow his government.