Canada and the 13 other members of the Lima Group will not recognize the re-election of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in a Sunday vote marred by international accusations that it was rigged.
All 14 members of the group issued a statement on Monday condemning the election and saying they will call back their ambassadors in Caracas for consultations on what to do next, as well as summon the Venezuelan ambassadors in each country to express their concerns.
READ MORE: Declaration of the Lima Group
The statement also said the countries will reduce their diplomatic presences in Venezuela as a result.
There is no indication in the statement that the Lima Group countries will permanently pull their ambassadors from Caracas.
“They do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process carried out in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that ended on May 20, for not complying with the international standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process,” a translation of the statement issued by the Lima Group reads.
“They agree to reduce the level of their diplomatic relations with Venezuela, for which they will call for consultations to the ambassadors in Caracas and will summon the ambassadors of Venezuela to express our protest.”
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Maduro has attacked the democratic institutions of Venezuela over the past several years and worked to stamp out opposition to his government, which is facing intense condemnation over its handling of rampant inflation and economic decline.
The Canadian government imposed targeted sanctions on 40 Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, in September 2017 for “anti-democratic behaviour” and “in response to the government of Venezuela’s deepening descent into dictatorship.”
Venezuela ejected the Canadian charge d’affairs – who is the top person at an embassy in the absence of an ambassador – in December 2017 over the federal government’s criticism of the human rights situation there.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland responded by barring the Venezuelan ambassador from Canada and declaring the Venezuelan charge d’affairs as persona non grata.
Opposition parties had warned in advance they feared the vote would be rigged in Maduro’s favour.
A declaration of his victory on Sunday said he got 5.8 million votes while his nearest rival received 1.8 million votes.