Canada has joined with more than 10 western hemisphere states in recognizing the newly self-declared leader of Venezuela and calling for quick elections.
In front of thousands of supporters, National Assembly Leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, something that he says is his right under the country’s constitution.
U.S. President Donald Trump immediately recognized Guaido, saying in a written statement that he represents “the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people.”
In a joint statement issued later on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru said they recognize and give their full support to Guaido.
They called for “new elections, in the shortest time, with the participation of all political actors and with the international guarantees and standards necessary for a democratic process,” according to one translation.
The statement also condemns “the acts of violence that occurred in Venezuela and urge that the rule of law, the fundamental rights of the people, and social peace be guaranteed while the transition of government takes place.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said earlier this month that Nicolas Maduro had “seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections.”
“The Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship,” Freeland said at the time. “The suffering of Venezuelans will only worsen should he continue to illegitimately cling to power.”
Socialist Maduro declared victory last May following an election in which popular opponents were banned. His inauguration was boycotted by nearly every country except Cuba and Bolivia.
Once the richest country in South America, Venezuela has been plunged into poverty and is suffering from severe shortages of food, health care and other services. An estimated 2.3 million people have fled.
Canada’s Conservative opposition also supports Guaido. Foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole and ethics critic Peter Kent issued a statement on Tuesday saying the party “stands with them in opposing the extreme socialist policies that have led to the starvation and suffering of millions of citizens in a country that holds tremendous promise.”
“We urge the OAS to work with National Assembly President Juan Guaido and members of the National Assembly to support their efforts for free and fair elections,” the statement goes on.