EU, LatAm ministers call for free elections in Venezuela | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 09, 2019

EU, LatAm ministers call for free elections in Venezuela

US rejects talks with Maduro, revokes visas of MPS

Ministers from more than a dozen European and Latin American countries on Thursday called for "free, transparent and credible presidential elections" in Venezuela as a solution to the roiling political crisis there.

The International Contact Group (GCI) said it was committed to finding a "peaceful, democratic" way out of the power struggle between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido "without the use of force."

Meanwhile, The United States said Thursday it was revoking visas of Venezuelan lawmakers aligned with Maduro as it criticized European and Latin American countries for seeking dialogue with the embattled leader.

Elliot Abrams, the new US envoy on the Venezuelan crisis, said that countries should only deal with Guaido.

The political standoff comes with Venezuela mired in economic crisis, marked by hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

The GCI said it would make contact with Venezuelan authorities and regional and international partners to "establish the necessary guarantees for a credible electoral process, as soon as possible," and to allow in humanitarian aid sent by the United States to Colombia's border with Venezuela.

The GCI, which was meeting in Uruguay's capital Montevideo, said it would send a technical mission to Venezuela.

Guaido's key demand is for Maduro to step down and hand power over to a transitional government ahead of new elections.

Maduro, for his part, has said he is prepared to sanction early legislative elections, but that would only serve to present him with a chance to take control of the one of Venezuela's five government branches dominated by the opposition.

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