Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is voicing his support for Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as interim president of the South American country.
“For years now, we’ve witnessed the breakdown of democracy in Venezuela and a dictatorship willing to use force, fear, and coercion to retain power,” said Trudeau on Monday about Nicolás Maduro, the leader who has refused to hand over power to Guaidó, according to the CBC.
“The violation of human rights and the complete disregard for the rule of law shown by the regime has been both inexcusable and unacceptable,” Trudeau continued.
Trudeau also announced that Canada would send $53 million (US$40 million) to help the nearly three million refugees that have fled Venezuela among the country’s ongoing food shortage.
The prime minister was addressing representatives of the Lima Group, which includes Canada and a number of Latin American nations, and is supported by the United States and other countries. The representatives met Monday in Ottawa for talks regarding how to support Guaidó as Venezuela’s nearly two-week-long power struggle continues.
Guaidó called for Maduro’s resignation towards the end of January amid public protests, eventually naming himself interim leader until legal elections could be held. The U.S., Germany, U.K., France, and other western nations have recognized Guaidó’s leadership. Mexico, although a member of the Lima Group, did not attend the Ottawa meeting and has not supported Guaidó.
Maduro, who was elected for a second term in what much of the world viewed as rigged elections, has refused to step down, prompting the U.S. to implement oil sanctions and threaten military action.