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LATIN AMERICA | 24-01-2023 00:11

Maduro pulls out of Argentina-CELAC trip, citing 'neo-fascist aggression'

Venezuelan leader cancels planned trip to Buenos Aires for CELAC summit, blaming "plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right wing" that he alleges would have carried out "aggressive actions" against his delegation.

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced Monday that he was cancelling a scheduled trip to Argentina to participate in the upcoming CELAC summit.

The Bolivarian leader blamed an alleged plan of “aggression” against his delegation, though he did not provide any specific details other than claiming a link to the United States.

"In the last few hours we have been informed, in an irrefutable manner, of a plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right wing, whose objective is to carry out a series of aggressive actions against our delegation headed by the President of the Republic," read an official statement.

"They intend to put on a deplorable 'show' in order to disrupt the positive effects of such an important regional event," the seventh summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), "and thus contribute to the discrediting campaign – already a failure – that has been waged against our country by the North American empire."

Earlier in the day, the Brazilian government had confirmed that Maduro was withdrawing from a planned meeting with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the summit in Buenos Aires.

Foreign Minister Yvan Gil will represent Venezuela at the CELAC summit instead of Maduro, who instead took part in a march on Monday commemorating the fall of the military dictatorship in 1958.

Maduro's potential presence had become a hot topic ahead of the CELAC summit. Members of Argentina’s opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition had called for his arrest, should he set foot in the country, and individuals and civil organisations attempted to file cases in the courts before the Argentine justice system relating to alleged human rights violations.

The socialist government in Venezuela thanked the "cordial invitation" to the summit issued by Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, who said in an interview last weekend that Maduro was “more than invited” to the CELAC event.

The meeting between Maduro and Lula, who returned to power on January 1 for a third term, raised expectations after a strong rift developed between Caracas and Brasilia during the term of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro (2017-2022).

Last week, a Brazilian diplomatic commission arrived in Venezuela to "normalise relations between the two countries” and reopen consular offices that have been shuttered since 2020.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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