On Monday, February 5th, the leaders of 11 nations in both North and South America met in Ottawa, Ontario and pledged their support for Democratic change in Venezuela. Led by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Canada released a Declaration endorsing Juan Guaidó as the real President of Venezuela and the necessity of a peaceful regime change.
In recent days, nations around the world have been pledging support to the two opposing factions in highly turbulent Venezuela. The taking of sides began in the last week when a relatively unknown representative in the Venezuelan government, Juan Guaidó, declared himself to be the interim President of Venezuela. He now stands as the central opposition figure to Socialist President Nicolas Maduro who has ruled over the Country for the past six years.
Canada, along with the United States, Europe, and many South American Nations, has officially declared its support for Mr. Guaido in the hopes that he will lead the Venezuelan people to depose Mr. Maduro. The U.S. has also imposed crippling sanctions on the Venezuelan economy, freezing oil revenues to the country, the return of which they plan to offer to Mr. Guaido’s government if and when he takes power. Prime Minister Trudeau has also offered tangible support to the rebel leader in the form of humanitarian aid.
In his address to the Lima Group on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau said that “today, Canada is stepping up and announcing US$53 million to address the most pressing needs of Venezuelans on the ground, including almost 3 million refugees.” The pledge was the first concrete support for Guaidó by Canada, and one of the strongest endorsements of the rebellious leader.
The recent meeting of the Lima Group, which does not include the United States, was an important step towards creating unity in the region. Virtually all nations in South and Central America, with the exceptions of Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Cuba, are now fully in support of Juan Guaidó, isolating Venezuela both politically and geographically.
However, not all Canadians agreed with the stance of Mr. Trudeau and his administration. Numerous labor unions, including Canada’s largest, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, expressed their dismay with what they feel is Canada meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state. Their statement declared that they, “reject any attempt by the Canadian government to interfere with the democratic processes and sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.”
Despite powerful forces outside of Venezuela declaring support for either Maduro or Guaidó, only one group can truly decide the fate of the nation: the people themselves. Until the time that revolution occurs or the opposition falls, the future of Venezuela is up in the air. The rest of the world can only watch.