In a statement issued by Canada's foreign ministry, and tweeted out by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, the Trudeau government has declared its rejection of Nicolas Maduro's new presidential term in Venezuela.
Canada's official statement follows an Organization of American States resolution declaring Maduro's second term as "illegitimate".
Earlier today, the US State Department also threatened more direct actions against the Venezuelan government if Maduro doesn't step down and also encouraged the Venezuelan people and military to act against him.
Paraguay has also refused to recognize Maduro's new term, cutting diplomatic relations, and has expelled Venezuelan diplomats from its country.
Maduro faces a tense internal environment in Venezuela as he begins a new 6-year term with a severe economic and political crisis and a low approval rating. However, the opposition has no viable or credible movement or platform that offers an appealing alternative to most Venezuelans.
A coup against Maduro would most likely not be supported by a majority of Venezuelans and would only increase the Venezuelan president's support.
Read Canada's official statement below.
Canada rejects the Maduro regime’s illegitimate mandate in Venezuela
January 10, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on Venezuela:
“Today, Nicolás Maduro’s regime loses any remaining appearance of legitimacy. Having seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections held on May 20, 2018, the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship. The suffering of Venezuelans will only worsen should he continue to illegitimately cling to power.
“Together with other likeminded countries in the Lima Group, Canada rejects the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolás Maduro. We call on him to immediately cede power to the democratically-elected National Assembly until new elections are held, which must include the participation of all political actors and follow the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela.
“In direct response to the actions of the Maduro regime, Canada has imposed targeted sanctions against 70 regime officials and, in collaboration with five other countries in the Americas, referred the situation in Venezuela to the International Criminal Court. Canada has also taken steps to downgrade diplomatic relations and restrict engagement with Venezuela.
“We will continue to take further, strong actions, as agreed to by Lima Group members when we met last week in Peru.
“Canada congratulates Juan Guaidó, who on January 5, 2019, assumed the Presidency of the National Assembly. As the only remaining democratically-elected institution in the country, the National Assembly must continue to play a crucial role in keeping Venezuela’s democracy alive.
“Canadians stand with the people of Venezuela and their desire to restore democracy and human rights in Venezuela.”
The Lima Group was established on August 8, 2017, in Lima, Peru, to coordinate participating countries’ efforts and apply international pressure on Venezuela. Meetings of the group have been regularly attended by representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. It is committed to closely monitoring events in Venezuela and applying pressure on Venezuela’s government until the full restoration of democracy in the country is achieved.
Over 3 million Venezuelans have been forced to flee their homes since 2015 in search of food, healthcare, and other basic services.
Since 2017, Canada has provided $2.21 million in humanitarian assistance funding to directly help meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by the crisis, both in Venezuela and for those who have fled to Colombia.
Canada has imposed three rounds of targeted sanctions to date and continues to coordinate with international partners to pressure the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela.