ASUNCIÓN/LIMA, Jan 11, 2019, The Santiago Times. Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez has announced that his country will not recognize Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s elected president, reported The Santiago Times.
Benitez said the country will close its embassy in Venezuela and withdraw all of its diplomats. In addition, Venezuelan diplomats in Paraguay will be deported, he said.
“There are no bad consequences when defending just causes,” Benitez said. “The cause of liberty and democracy is a just cause.”
— Marito Abdo (@MaritoAbdo) January 10, 2019
Paraguay’s move came immediately after Maduro was sworn-in on Thursday for a second six-year term following elections it perceives to be fraudulent.
Maduro first took office in 2013 after his predecessor Hugo Chavez died and will govern Venezuela until 2025.
Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said on Twitter that Paraguay decided to cut diplomatic relations with Venezuela “in defense of democracy”.
Peru, another Latin American country, also recalled its charge d’affaires from its embassy in Venezuela to protest what it called the “illegitimate” new term of Maduro, according to the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.
In a statement on Thursday, the ministry said Maduro and 100 others linked to him or his government would be banned from entry to Peru.
Un régimen ilegítimo y dictatorial se acaba de instalar hoy en Venezuela. Levantamos nuestra voz de protesta para defender la democracia en América Latina.
— Martín Vizcarra (@MartinVizcarraC) January 11, 2019
Earlier, the Lima Group of Latin American countries said they will not recognize Maduro’s presidency. The group includes Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Peru.
The only member of the group that did not follow suit was Mexico, which was represented by its commercial attaché in Caracas.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) agreed Thursday “to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term,” the bloc said in a statement.
The resolution was approved with 19 votes in favor, six against, eight abstentions and one absent, the statement added.
Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the bloc, slammed the decision, calling it “a hostile act … against our nation”.
Maduro, while hitting back at global criticism of his new mandate, said that the U.S. and the Lima Group have turned his swearing-in ceremony into a war.
China, Russia and other allies sent representatives to the ceremony, many more countries were noticeably absent.
Since 2015, Venezuela has been embroiled in a worsening economic crisis with hyperinflation soaring and millions of people fleeing food and medicine shortages.