Nicolás Maduro will not travel to Argentina for security reasons. The Venezuelan President declined at the last minute the invitation of the Argentine Government to participate this Tuesday in the summit of the celac (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) by arguing that “extravagant plans designed by right-wing extremists” are underway to attack him and put the regional event at risk. In his place, he will be represented by the chancellor, Yván Gil.
“In the last hours we have been informed, irrefutably, of a plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right, whose objective is to carry out a series of attacks against our delegation,” the Venezuelan government said Monday in a statement that put an end to days of uncertainty.
Doubts about his presence remained until the last moment. “I have no news so far that President Maduro is not coming, but I don’t know what he will do,” said the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, at a press conference this Monday with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Until then, it was only known that Maduro had canceled the planned bilateral meeting with Lula.
The Venezuelan leader has limited his visits abroad to the maximum since in 2020 the United States offered a reward of 15 million dollars for his capture on charges of narcoterrorism. In September 2021, he landed by surprise and at the last minute in Mexico to participate in the Celac summit. Last November he participated in the climate summit held in Egypt. Since then, he has not traveled abroad again.
Maduro’s presence at the summit had been defended by the Argentine government on the grounds that Celac is an area of discussion from which no country in the region is excluded. Fernández stressed that the greatest concern regarding Venezuela “is to promote dialogue among Venezuelans, that democratic coexistence be recovered and that their rights are respected.”
Fernández’s attitude contrasts with that of his predecessor, Mauricio Macri. The ex-president called the invitation to the regional summit to both Maduro and the Cuban as shameful Miguel Diaz-Canel. “The welcome to these dictators is not organized by us Argentines, but by a government that languishes in its mediocrity, one that will soon take the unfortunate honor of having been the worst government in the history of democracy in our country,” he criticized through of social networks. His former Minister of the Interior, Patricia Bullrich, had requested Maduro’s arrest if he set foot in Buenos Aires. Bullrich participated on Sunday in a small demonstration of Venezuelans against Maduro’s visit.
The greatest support for the Venezuelan president has come from Lula, who has made an emphatic defense of dialogue to resolve the Venezuelan crisis. “The problem of Venezuela will be resolved through dialogue, not with embargoes or personal offenses,” stressed the Brazilian president in Buenos Aires, the destination of his first official visit abroad since he took power three weeks ago.
“Just as I am against the Russian territorial occupation of Ukraine, I am against interference in Venezuela,” said the leader of the Brazilian left who now heads a government that includes parties to his right and left. Before criticizing the interference, he has defended the right to self-determination of peoples and harshly condemned that the opposition Juan Guaidó was recognized as interim president by dozens of countries. “This citizen, Guaidó, was acting as president for months without being one and they even gave him guarantees on the Venezuelan gold reserves deposited in an English bank!”, he complained at the appearance at the Casa Rosada together with his Argentine counterpart .
After a stage marked by the diplomatic isolation of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, broken by the approach of the United States to negotiate on Venezuelan oil, Lula wants to embark on a new phase. “If we can help build agreements within each country, we will help,” he declared when asked by the press. “We must treat Venezuela and Cuba with great affection,” he said after recalling that he is more in favor of “giving advice” than criticizing. Lula did not make any explicit mention during his speech to the lack of freedoms in Cuba or Venezuela or to those imprisoned for political reasons. “Cuba does not want to copy the model of Brazil, nor that of the United States, it wants its own model”, he has proclaimed.
The president of Brazil intends to recover the role of Latin American leader that he exercised in his first two terms (2003-2010). He has taken advantage of the occasion to emphasize that CELAC is the only Latin American multilateral organization of which Cuba is a member.
The new Brazilian government is in the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Maduro’s Venezuela. It was one of the first orders that the president made to the Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira. There has been a Brazilian charge d’affaires in Caracas since last week and Lula hopes that the embassies of both countries will reopen soon.