Canada renewed its calls to allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela on Saturday night in a joint statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau.
“Canada is deeply concerned by the acts of violence allegedly perpetrated by the Maduro regime, designed to block the entry of relief items from neighbouring countries,” read the statement.
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“Canada calls for these unacceptable attacks to be investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. These attacks on civilians are simply unacceptable and a violation of basic humanitarian principles and human decency.”
Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Jan. 23, 2019, after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won what was largely dismissed as a rigged election last May.
Under Maduro’s rule, the country has descended into poverty, millions of people have fled and inflation will likely reach an unthinkable one million per cent this year.
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Since then, several western countries, including the United States and Canada, have backed Guaido’s claim to the presidency, and Venezuelans have taken to the streets calling for Maduro to step down.
Humanitarian aid from the United States arrived in Venezuela via the border it shares with Colombia on Feb. 8, however Maduro blocked the aid from entering the country. A few weeks later, Maduro closed the border that Venezuela shares with Brazil to block additional aid.
Security forces killed two civilians this week after opening fire on angry protesters.
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In 2017, Canada joined a group established to apply pressure on the Maduro government in the wake of the economic and humanitarian crisis. Since the uprisings began, Canada has remained steadfast in its support of Guaido.
“Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and reaffirms their right to peace and democracy and the full respect of their human rights,” the statement continued.
In January, Freeland called Venezuela’s military-backed regime a dictatorship and imposed sanctions on 70 individuals associated with Maduro.
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U.S. President Donald Trump has also been vocal in his support of Guaido and recently held a rally specifically dedicated to voicing support for Venezuelans. U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence plans to meet with Guaido in Bogota on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Lima Group of regional leaders, a Pence aide said on Saturday.
—With files from the Mike Le Couteur, the Associated Press and Kerri Breen