Members of the Lima Group in the Americas, who have previously sought intervention in Venezuela through the Organization of American States (OAS), have agreed that further action is needed in order to isolate the South American country.
The gathering of foreign ministers and representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru met in Toronto, Canada on Thursday for the third time.
"If necessary we must put added pressure on the Maduro regime by taking concrete steps to further isolate it from the international community," Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after the meeting.
Freeland, who was widely criticized in March for admitting she's "proud" of her family's Nazi past, also said Canada is considering placing a second round of sanctions against the Bolivarian nation. Last month, Canada placed sanctions on 40 Venezuelan government officials, including President Nicolas Maduro.
The Lima Group released a declaration statement following the meeting. Among other demands, it includes a call to evaluate the country's electoral system, along with criticisms of both the recent regional elections and July's Constituent Assembly process.
Freeland released a statement shortly after the regional elections in which she said: "Canada is very concerned by the actions of the Venezuelan regime to hinder free and fair elections."
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded by saying Canada's criticisms amounted to the government's "permanent" and "systematic interference" in the affairs of the Caribbean country.
In response to the Lima Group's meeting, several Venezuelan solidarity groups in Toronto staged public protests.
To avert invasion and Canadian mining in Venezuela, activists disrupt meeting of the Lima Group of Fm https://t.co/zdMKUt8fd7— LACSN (@RedLacsn) October 26, 2017
The Hugo Chavez Foundation, based in Toronto, also released a statement Thursday calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to refrain from interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs. Ottawa, the Canadian capital, has long sought to influence the South American country, whether by endorsing OAS proposals calling for intervention or meeting with right-wing opposition activists.
Protesters in Toronto. | Photos: Lucho Granados Ceja
"History has taught us that such actions are a pretext for foreign military intervention, regime change and looting of natural resources," the protesters said n a statement regarding the meeting. "We call on our government to respect Venezuela's sovereignty and not follow Trump's interventionist agenda."
The Lima Group is set to meet again in Chile in January 2018.