Escalating Argentina's criticism of Nicolás Maduro's government, Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie declared Tuesday that the Venezuelan leader's "dictatorship" is threatening "peace, regional security and international security."
The Argentine official delivered the statement at the Palacio San Martín in Recoleta, as member nations of the Lima Group gathered in Buenos Aires to address the crisis in Venezuela. The meeting came in the wake of a recent report by UN human rights chief and ex-Chile president Michelle Bachelet, which underlined the mass exodus of Venezuelans from their homeland and detailed allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions.
"We have to make a great effort to ensure that the restoration of the democratic order in Venezuela is achieved through the call for elections," said Faurie, who chaired the meeting with his Peruvian counterpart, Néstor Polizio.
Faurie offered a dire diagnosis of the situation in Venezuela, as representatives from 16 nations in the region and the European Union called for a democratic end to the ongoing crisis.
“There are huge numbers of political prisoners and many people are being tortured. There are people who are paying for life in Venezuela with their blood,” the foreign minister said. "We cannot allow freedom to be affected. As long as Venezuela is living this dictatorship, all our democracies are weakened."
Both Faurie and Polizio highlighted the wave of emigration, underlining that "more than four million people have left the country."
"We always advocate a peaceful solution to the crisis, led by Venezuelans themselves, as soon as possible. The crisis irequires urgent solution through credible, transparent, free and fair elections," declared Popolizio.
During the meeting, Juan Guaidó – the opposition leader who has been recognised by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president – spoke with officials via videoconference from Caracas.
Guaidó, who was represented at the meeting in Buenos Aires by Venezuelan parliamentarian Julio Borges, thanked “all the efforts that the countries of the Lima Group are also making to house" those fleeing their homeland.
Faurie remarked that “from Argentina, we have made a great effort to incorporate more than 130,000 Venezuelans into our lives, and we have opened a national registry to collect all the complaints they have” against the Maduro administration.
Peru has welcomed 768,100 Venezuelans, while Colombia is currently playing host to 1.3 million.
The Lima Group, made up of more than ten Latin American nations and Canada, was created two years ago to adopt a common position against the Venezuelan crisis. The group says Venezuela's 2018 elections, which saw Maduro re-elected, were undemocratic.