Caracas: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a controversial new term Thursday as the Organization of American States voted to disavow his presidency and to call for new elections.
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, or OAS, agreed “to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term” at about the same time Maduro declared a “new beginning” of the so-called, two-decade Bolivarian Revolution.
The OAS resolution was approved “with 19 votes in favor, 6 against, 8 abstentions and one absent,” the organization said.
El Nacional newspaper in Venezuela reported protests within the country, as well as across Venezuelan missions in other parts of the world that have received the exodus of about 3 million Venezuelans fleeing political and economic instability in recent years.
Maduro assumed his new term as countries that are part of the Group of Lima, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru recently called for new elections and said they would move to deny Venezuelan officials’ entry into their nations.
Maduro kept a defiant tone during his inauguration speech, and reiterated that he had given 48 hours to the Group of Lima countries to back down. He has in the past accused those governments of interference, and of accepting pressures from the United States.
“Groups of the right pretend to give orders about what the government of Venezuela must do,” he said.
“Rest assured that Bolivarian Revolution will know how to face these threats, these aggressions,” Maduro told those present in the swearing-in ceremony.
The United States and the European Union have also not recognized Maduro’s election after a controversial process that saw voting dates moved twice and included a historically low turnout.
The Latin American presidents that attended the ceremony were Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez, Colombia’s El Tiempo reported.
Mexico and Uruguay were represented by Caracas-based diplomatic officials in charge of business affairs.
China was represented in the ceremony by Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Han Changfu while Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, represented Russia, the Venezuelan government website said.
Venezuela’s Maduro is not just experiencing diplomatic problems, but also faces economic and domestic difficulties that have led to greater resistance in his nation.
Last year, Venezuela became Latin America’s most violent country, with more than 23,000 violent deaths — of which 7,523 occurred as citizens resisted authority, according to a tally of a non-government organization.
A chaotic economic situation has created shortages of food and medicine and has contributed to the exodus of 3 million Venezuelans in recent years, according to the United Nations. The country had a population of 32 million people in 2017.
The country’s oil production, traditionally its main source of revenue, has declined to historic lows.
Image: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets a group of children upon his arrival at his inauguration ceremony in Caracas Thursday January 10