Venezuela's Maduro Sees Legitimacy Challenged In Rare Trip Abroad


Venezuela's Maduro sees legitimacy challenged in rare trip abroad

Mexico City, Sept 18 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Sep, 2021 ) :Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hit back Saturday at challenges to his legitimacy as he attended a regional summit in his first trip abroad since the United States accused him of drug trafficking.

Maduro showed up at the last minute at a meeting of the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC.

In March 2020, the US Department of Justice accused Maduro of crimes including "narco-terrorism", drug trafficking, and possession of weapons, and offered $15 million for information leading to his arrest.

The designation came as the Trump administration worked to help opposition leader Juan Guaido take power.

The Venezuelan president, who usually travels to Cuba, a close ally, or to Caribbean countries, has avoided leaving his country after the reward was issued and his trip to Mexico is the first of an official nature since then.

More than 50 countries, led by the US, recognize Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate interim president. Guaido proclaimed himself as such in 2019 after Maduro claimed re-election in voting widely dismissed as fraudulent.

During Saturday's proceedings, the presidents of Uruguay and Paraguay -- which are among those 50 -- said their presence at the summit did not mean they recognize Maduro as president.

"There is no change in my government's position and I think it is the gentlemanly thing to say so out loud," Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay said in a speech to the gathered leaders. His government severed ties with Venezuela after Guaido declared himself president.

President Luis Lacalle of Uruguay said that in Venezuela "there is no full democracy... Repression is used to quash protests, and the opposition is jailed." Maduro, a leftist firebrand and former bus driver handpicked by the late Hugo Chavez, responded by challenging both of those presidents to a debate on democracy in his country and in Latin America in general.

"Name the date, the place, and the time," Maduro said, addressing the two leaders.

He invited them to come to his country and observe municipal elections on November 21, which the opposition has said it will take part in after boycotting voting for three years.

"Come see the dictator Maduro, how he convenes elections," Maduro said.