More than a dozen countries have recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela for consultations after President Nicolas Maduro won re-election amid accusations of voter manipulation and fraud.
The 14 countries of the Lima Group said Monday they “do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that ended on May 20 because it did not comply with the international standards for a democratic, free, fair and transparent process.”
The group – composed of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatamala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucia – said the Venezuelan ambassadors in each of their countries had been summoned to receive a note of protest.
According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Maduro won a second six-year term in Sunday’s presidential election with 68 per cent of the vote. His challenger Henri Falcon received 21 per cent.
The head of the election council put voter turnout at 46 per cent, but the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) – the country’s largest opposition group that also boycotted the elections – said less than 30 per cent of Venezuela’s 20.5 million eligible voters went to the polls.
Falcon said he received hundreds of complaints about ruling party employees scanning voters’ identity documents near and even inside polling stations, implicitly or explicitly promising them benefits if they voted for Maduro.
Venezuela is mired in a deep recession, with quintuple-digit annual inflation contributing to widespread shortages of food and medicines and the flight of hundreds of thousands of people to neighbouring countries.