Premier threatens to block Maduro visit

17 February 2018

Prime Minister Mercedes Aráoz’s announcement that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will be physically blocked from attending April’s hemispheric summit in Lima further ramps up Peru’s defiant posture in relation to Venezuela. It follows Maduro’s declaration that he would be attending the summit “by air, land or sea”. 

President Kuczynski previously extended a formal invitation to Maduro to attend, but has since made clear that the invitation has been rescinded.

Peru’s resolve on the matter appears to have been strengthened since US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Lima two weeks ago. Prior to the visit, Tillerson hinted to students in Texas that some sort of military intervention in Venezuela may be on the cards, a prospect that has received considerable criticism within Latin America. Orchestrating a united position against Venezuela was a key point of Tillerson’s visit to Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

Peru’s stance towards Venezuela also seems to reflect the need to rally the support of Peruvian public opinion at a time when a fresh impeachment is on the cards. Public opinion in Peru, nurtured by media coverage, has long been averse to Chavismo. The country is providing temporary shelter to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan emigrés.

Peru’s decision to dis-invite Maduro is bound to spark controversy over its right to blackball Venezuela. Not all countries which belong to the so-called ‘Lima group’ will agree. Moreover, countries like Nicaragua and Bolivia, which support Venezuela, can be counted on to criticise what they see as an arbitrary and unilateral decision.

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