Thursday, 17 January, 2019

World Leaders Begin to Arrive for Maduro Inauguration

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shows a map while he speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas Venezuela Venezuela President Maduro sworn in for second term
Melinda Barton | 13 January, 2019, 16:39

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will begin his second mandate on Thursday plagued by accusations of illegitimacy and increasing global isolation in a country crippled by an economic crisis.

The re-inauguration took place before the country's Supreme Court instead of its opposition-run Congress, which has been stripped of its powers since Maduro's ruling Socialist Party lost control of it in 2016.

The United States, the European Union, and many Latin American countries condemned the vote previous year, and issued withering criticism of Maduro on Thursday. Hundreds of officials gathered inside the court's chambers cheered Maduro.

"The US will not recognize the Maduro dictatorship's illegitimate inauguration", national security advisor John Bolton tweeted Thursday.

Maduro's answer has been to plead with his allies to invest in the country's crude, gold, diamond and coltan resources.

"Today, we reiterate our support for Venezuela's National Assembly, the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people".

David Smilde, Tulane University expert on Venezuela, said that this isn't likely to create change.

Members of the so-called Group of Lima, which includes Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, said Maduro's new term would be illegitimate because the 2018 election that gave him a second term was not free or fair and that they would not recognize his leadership.

At a joint press conference, Hatami emphasized the interest of the Islamic Republic of Iran in expanding all-out ties with "friendly and brotherly" country of Venezuela, saying the Latin American state has played an active role in "anti-colonial struggles".

Earlier this week, Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa fled to the United States in protest over President Nicolás Maduro winning a second term, arguing that the election "was not free and fair".

As stated by the European Union in the Council Conclusions of May 2018, the presidential elections of last May in Venezuela were neither free, nor fair.

Oil-rich Venezuela was once among Latin America's wealthiest nations.

Leftist presidents Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba, Evo Morales of Bolivia, El Salvador's Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega were present for the inauguration, as were representatives of Russia, China and Turkey. Canada has provided $2.2-million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and is a member of the Lima Group of countries that is trying to bring worldwide pressure to bear on the South American country.

The ceremony contrasted with the harsh realities that face the former bus driver turned socialist leader, including hyperinflation, severe food and medicine shortages and an exodus of millions of citizens. Maduro's government has jailed or driven into exile its most popular opposition leaders. The UN has said more than five million will have fled by the end of this year. "We hear the reports - the starvation in Venezuela, the incarceration of political opponents".