People across Canada gathered Saturday in support of Venezuela’s Juan Guaido’s fight against socialist president Nicolas Maduro, ahead of an emergency Lima Group meeting Monday in Ottawa.
Rallies gathered in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Vancouver, co-ordinated by the Canada Venezuela Democracy Forum, the same day that rallies were held across Venezuela supporting Guaido.
Guaido had called on Venezuelans to take to the streets around the globe Saturday to “reject Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship, to raise our voices for the urgent need for humanitarian aid,” according to the forum.
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Director of the Canada Venezuela Democracy Forum, Rebecca Sarfatti, was at Nathan Phillips Square. She said the crowd gathered to show their appreciation for Canada and the world for standing with Venezuela’s “democratic path.”
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Sarfatti said the group’s ultimate goal is to have a “fair and free election” in Venezuela, but in the short term, for there to be humanitarian aid sent to Venezuela “as soon as possible.”
“Venezuelans need the help of the international community to stop people from dying just because there is no needles or food,” she said.
Venezuela has been in a state of political crisis ever since Guaido, who was previously the president of the national assembly, declared himself president on January 23 in opposition to Maduro. Guaido and his supporters say the May 2018 election that saw Maduro victorious was illegitimate.
Canada, the U.S., Australia, the EU Parliament and other Latin American countries have proclaimed their support for Guaido, while Russia and China have put their support behind Maduro.
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Canada has played a key role in supporting Guaido, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland talking to Guaido the night before Maduro was sworn in on January 10, offering Canada’s support to Guaido should he confront Maduro.
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Canada will host an “urgent” meeting Monday with the Lima Group, formed in August 2017 as a response to Maduro’s move away from democracy, that is planned to discuss how to support Guaido.
Sarfatti encouraged Canadians to reach out to a Venezuelan to explain the country’s position, and warned about “propaganda” that claims that Guaido is leading a coup against Maduro.