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    Foreign Ministers of the Lima Group gather for a meeting concerning Venezuela, in Lima, Peru, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019

    Lima Group Asks Intl Criminal Court to Provide Assessment of Venezuela Situation

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    The Lima Group on Monday asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to make an assessment of the situation in crisis-torn Venezuela, proposing that Venezuela's partners help organize "free elections" in the country.

    "We have decided to turn to the International Criminal Court with a request to take into account the grave humanitarian situation in Venezuela, the criminal violence of [Venezuelan President] Nicolas Maduro's regime against civilians and the denial of access to international aid, which is a crime against humanity", the statement said.

    Participants at the Lima Group meeting also stressed that the transition to "democracy" must be performed by Venezuelans themselves without the use of force and in line with the country's constitution.

    READ MORE: Caracas Accuses Lima Group of Supporting Corruption, Dubs 'The Lima Cartel'

    "We call on the countries that continue to maintain partnership relations with Nicolas Maduro's illegitimate regime, to help find solutions that would open the way to a democratic transition and the holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections", the statement added.

    Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo called on the international community to join the Lima Group on the situation in Venezuela.

    "It is important to invite more and more members of the international community, those who will participate with us in the expanded dialogue, so that they will join the actions that are made by us as the Lima Group and will support Venezuelans’ efforts aimed at restoring democracy and hope", the foreign minister said Monday.

    READ MORE: Sputnik Chief Editor Names Reason Likely Behind Ottawa's Sputnik Lima Group Ban

    On 5 January, lawmaker Juan Guaido was elected as the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other Venezuelan government branches have refused to recognize. On 23 January, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido declared himself the country's "interim president". Incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for his second presidential term on 10 January after winning reelection in a contest partially boycotted by the opposition in May, qualified Guaido's move as an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.

    The United States immediately recognized Guaido, after which some 50 other countries followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of constitutionally elected Maduro. Mexico and Uruguay have refused to recognize Guaido, declaring themselves neutral and promoting crisis settlement via dialogue.

    US Vice President Mike Pence said in Colombia on Monday that the Trump administration was mulling new sanctions against Venezuela's government. Pence also urged Monday all Lima Group members to freeze the assets of Venezuela's oil giant PDVSA and restrict visas for Venezuelan officials. The US vice president also called on these countries to immediately transfer the ownership of Venezuelan assets from the government of incumbent President Nicolas Maduro to self-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido.

    READ MORE: Lima Group Calls on Venezuela Military to Recognize Guaido as Interim President

    Earlier on Monday, the US Treasury Department sanctioned four Venezuelan governors.

    The United States has imposed numerous rounds of sanctions on Venezuela. In January, Washington blocked around $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA. Maduro said that the restrictions were tantamount to illegal seizing.

    The Lima Group of 14 countries was created in 2017 and currently seeks to end the political crisis in Venezuela. The group includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. The majority of the organization's member states are backing Guaido.

    READ MORE: Caracas Claims Lima Group Encouraging Coup in Venezuela — Reports

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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (392)

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