Mexico rejects Spanish proposal to join group on Venezuela

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (r) holds a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (l) at the National Palace in Mexico City on Jan. 30, 2019. EFE-EPA/Jose Mendez

MEXICO CITY.- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday rejected the proposal of visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to participate in an international contact group on the Venezuelan crisis.

In an appearance before the media by the two leaders after their bilateral meeting, Lopez Obrador insisted that «dialogue is the first step, things cannot be imposed, first the parties have to begin a dialogue» in Venezuela.

«We don’t want foreigners to intervene in issues that are the responsibility of Mexicans, and so we must also be very cautious not to intervene. So that others don’t intervene,» the Mexican leader said.

Also on Wednesday, Uruguay and Mexico, both countries that decided to take a neutral position vis-a-vis the crisis in Venezuela, convened for Feb. 7 an international conference given the tension created after Venezuelan National Assembly president Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president to replace elected President Nicolas Maduro.

Despite these differences, however, both Sanchez and Lopez Obrador emphasized that relations between Spain and Mexico go significantly beyond their respective stances on the Venezuelan crisis.

Sanchez mentioned Spain’s position and said that Madrid does not intend «to remove or put governments in place,» but rather by democratic means – that is, through fair, clean and transparent elections – find a way out of the crisis in Venezuela.

He defended the common European position to which his government adheres but also the plan to establish the international contact group and which those setting it up want both Europeans and Latin Americans to join and for it to foster dialogue regarding elections so that Venezuelans can find a way out of the crisis.

Last Saturday, the governments of Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom gave Maduro eight days to call new elections saying that if he does not do so they will recognize Guaido, an ultimatum to which The Netherlands and Portugal later adhered.

The Venezuelan opposition is pursuing a multi-faceted pressure campaign to urge Maduro to step down as the country’s elected president, after he was sworn in just under three weeks ago for a second six-year term after winning an election last May that many governments around the world have deemed to be fraudulent.

Maduro won the election handily given that most of the opposition did not participate and because the leaders of the main opposition parties were prevented from running against him.

Thus, the opposition – basing its stance on Articles 233, 333 and 350 of the country’s constitution – claims that Maduro has «usurped» the presidency and that his second term is «illegitimate.»

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