LIMA – The Lima Group met again in search for a solution to the Venezuelan crisis. After it took a step forward and named some culprits after its April meeting, the group now backtracked a bit. All members also favor bringing Cuba into the fold.
After meeting in Peru’s capital on May 3, the Lima Group, comprising 12 countries, issued a declaration – as usual. Members designated Chile as interlocutor with the International Contact Group (ICG), according to a press release from the Chilean foreign ministry. The ICG includes the EU, Uruguay, Costa Rica and other countries from the region, and seeks a parallel way out of the crisis.
Giving Chile that role attests to the country’s high profile. Lima Group members have high confidence in Chilean diplomacy.
In point 10 of the declaration, some international players appear as supporters of Maduro – but one is let off the hook. “[The group reiterates] its call to Russia, Turkey and all those countries that still support the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro to favor the process of democratic transition.” While China was called out after the April summit in Santiago de Chile, the group has now turned it into the blurry “all those countries.” The move reflects not China’s recent silence (Turkey hasn’t made much noise either) but the interests of Venezuela’s neighbors.
Especially Chile is going out of its way to lure China to the region. Part of that strategy must include shielding Beijing from too much criticism.
Meanwhile, Russia will remain unimpressed by the Group’s demand that Moscow support a return of democracy. Russia’s intervention in Syria has put the country on the international stage. This success resulted largely from defying calls for diplomacy, and Russia will become even more indispensable the closer it gets to Maduro.
Another relevant point relates to the Lima Group’s “putting in place measures so that Cuba participates in finding a solution.” Especially the Colombian and Chilean right-wing, which govern in both countries, have repeatedly and strongly denounced Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism and authoritarian state. Now, they acknowledge Cuba as a potential harbinger of peace. It will be interesting to see if that buoys communist actors in the respective countries, how Cuba leverages this change of course, and if that decision sets the Lima Group on a collision course with the hawkish US administration.
The next meeting will take place in Guatemala.
Christian is Managing Editor at Chile Today, where he curates the foreign policy blog Teatinos One/Eighty. Christian is also Lead Editor of E-International Relations, co-editor of an open access textbook on International Relations Theory and Director at the Chilean Association of International Specialists (ACHEI).