Members of the Lima Group have issued a declaration urging President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has released a statement warning against interventionism after several member countries of the so-called Lima Group declared the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro "illegitimate."
Arreaza said he regrets that the members “agreed to foster a coup in Venezuela” by “not recognizing the democratically elected government” after “receiving instructions from the U.S. government through a video conference.”
Maduro is due to be sworn in January 10 for the 2019-2015 period, “according to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which doesn’t require the approval of any foreign government,” Arreaza said.
Venezuela held general elections on May 20, 2018, “with wide popular participation and diverse candidates representing an even greater number of political parties.”
During a press conference Friday, Arreaza reminded the public that Maduro won with more than 67 percent of the votes. He also noted that over 200 national and international observers were present during the electoral process.
The Lima Group declaration urged President Maduro to transfer executive power to the National Assembly, considered legitimate by the group, while new elections take place.
In response, Arreaza said: “The immense majority of the countries in the world have expressed their recognition for this election and greeted President Maduro.
"It was, above all, an electoral process with guarantees and conditions identical to those parliamentary elections that resulted in the current National Assembly, directed by the same electoral authorities, for which they have identical legitimacy."
Arreaza's statement also criticizes the Lima Group’s intentions to “modify the territorial limits of the country, attributing indisputable Venezuelan territory to a neighboring country, intervening in a territorial controversy of exclusive bilateral reach.”
On December 23, two ships hired by Exxon Mobil were intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy after violating sovereign maritime space.
Despite the fact the Venezuelan procedure followed international norms and agreements, the United States criticized the maneuver by calling on Venezuela to "respect international law and the sovereignty of its neighbors,” as it claimed the ships were in Guyana's Exclusive Economic Zone.
“We have even received messages from members of the Venezuelan opposition expressing their unconformity about the way this group of countries introduced the territorial controversy with a neighboring country,” said Arreaza.
“What this declaration intends is to contradict the peaceful principles in the country's’ internal affairs and to destabilize the democratic institutionality of Venezuela to generate conditions for who knows what undesirable situation in Venezuela.”
The Venezuelan government declared it will take reciprocal measures according to the actions of each individual country.