Hard crossing of Lacalle Pou and Abdo Benítez with Nicolás Maduro at the Celac summit

Hard crossing of Lacalle Pou and Abdo Benítez with Nicolás Maduro at the Celac summit

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Hard crossing of Lacalle Pou and Abdo Benítez with Nicolás Maduro at the Celac summit

The presence of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which takes place in Mexico, convulsed the meeting and generated hard crossings with his counterparts from Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, and from Paraguay, Abdo Benítez, who questioned their democratic legitimacy.

Venezuela was thus once again the point of clash between countries in the region, which are divided between the recognition of Maduro or the opposition Juan Guaidó as the ruler in charge of the former oil power.

The Celac debate in Mexico. (AFP)

The first to criticize Maduro’s presence was the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benítez, who warned that his government has not changed its position on Venezuela, with which it broke relations after recognizing Guaidó when he proclaimed himself president in 2019.

My presence on this summit In no sense or circumstance does it represent an acknowledgment to the government of Mr. Nicolás Maduro. There is no change in my government and I think it is gentlemen to say it head-on, “he said in his speech.

Hard crossing of Lacalle Pou and Abdo Benítez with Nicolás Maduro at the Celac summit

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou questioned the lack of democracy in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. (AfP)

Next, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle affirmed that participating in the Celac summit did not mean being “complacent” with countries where “there is no full democracy”, in reference to Venezuela and Nicaragua, where, as he said, “the repressive apparatus is used to silence protests, when opponents are imprisoned “.

With “a calm but firm voice, we must say with concern that we see seriously what is happening in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela,” Lacalle stressed to his colleagues about reports of human rights violations in those countries.

Maduro, when it was his turn to give his speech at the summit, tried to have a conciliatory tone, although he invited both to discuss democracy. “I say to the president of Paraguay: set the date, place and time for a debate on democracy in Paraguay, Venezuela and Latin America. Put you, President Lacalle, the date and the place, “he said.

Hard crossing of Lacalle Pou and Abdo Benítez with Nicolás Maduro at the Celac summit

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez said that in Venezuela and Nicaragua “the repressive apparatus is used to silence protests.” (AFP)

In another section, the Venezuelan president invited the countries of the region to witness the municipal elections that will be held on November 21, in which the opposition will participate after three years of electoral boycott, after arduous negotiations.

“Go, see the dictator Maduro how he calls for election number 29, all the opposition has registered. Welcome and may whoever has to win win, “he remarked.

Guaidó is recognized as interim president by fifty countries, led by the United States, although Maduro maintains territorial and institutional control with the support of the military, Cuba, Russia and China.

During the plenary session of the Celac, the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, came out in defense of Maduro and once again condemned the economic sanctions of the United States against Caracas and Havana.

The conclave, in short, and beyond the fights and ideological differences, had no concrete results. Latin American presidents advocated for the political and economic integration of the region, but without providing concrete initiatives.

After the welcoming speech of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the assisting presidents spoke in alphabetical order.

Bolivian President Luis Arce was the first to intervene. He criticized the Organization of American States (OAS) and called for an organization “that works with democratic practices and that responds to reality by supporting the sovereignty of the countries and without interference.”

“The OAS is useless,” said Arce, who praised Mexico’s work in favor of Celac as an organization that defends that “financial interest cannot be above social interest.”

For his part, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel denounced the “opportunistic campaign of interests of the United States against Cuba” and that the US embargo has been tightened while suffering “the conditions due to the pandemic.”