Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Freeland Says Venezuela's Maduro Is Now a Dictator after Illegitimate Win

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Freeland Says Venezuela's Maduro Is Now a Dictator after Illegitimate Win

Article excerpt

Canada rejects new Venezuelan government

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OTTAWA - Thursday's inauguration of Nicolas Maduro has solidified him as a dictator, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a scathing denunciation of the Venezuelan president that aligned Canada with major allies.

Freeland characterized Maduro's recent election victory as illegitimate as he was sworn in for a second term in Caracas. Canada joined the United States and 17 Latin American governments in rejecting the legitimacy of the new Maduro government.

"Having seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections held on May 20, 2018, the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship," Freeland said in a statement. "The suffering of Venezuelans will only worsen should he continue to illegitimately cling to power."

Canada has downgraded diplomatic relations with Venezuela and imposed sanctions on 70 officials in the regime.

Venezuela's political and economic crisis has forced three million people to flee their homes in search of food, health care and other basic services since 2015. Canada has provided $2.2 million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and is a member of the Lima Group of countries that is trying to bring international pressure to bear on the South American country.

"We call on (Maduro) 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," said Freeland.

Many other countries in Europe and Latin America snubbed Maduro's inauguration ceremony, but the socialist presidents of Cuba and Bolivia, Miguel Diaz-Canel and Evo Morales, showed up to support him. Maduro used his inauguration speech to shoot back at Canada and the U.S.

"Venezuela is the centre of a world war led by the North American imperialists and its allies," he said. …

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