Peru calls on region to sever ties with Venezuela

Lima, Peru – Peru said Friday it will urge the so-called “Lima Group” of countries to cut diplomatic ties with Venezuela and issue travel bans against all top officials in President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

The 14-member regional group refuses to recognize Venezuela’s May elections, in which Maduro won a new six-year term in a vote marred by irregularities.

“The natural consequence is to propose, as one of the actions we take, the severing of diplomatic relations with Venezuela,” said Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio.

He told journalists that Peru would introduce a measure to that effect, as well as a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials, at a December 19 meeting of the group, whose members include Canada and most of Latin America’s top powers.

The aim, he said, is to pressure the “Maduro dictatorship” as the leftist leader prepares to be sworn in on January 10 for his second term at the head of the crisis-racked country.

Maduro, the successor to late leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, has presided over a devastating political and economic crisis in Venezuela, where hyperinflation, shortages and political turmoil have caused an estimated 2.3 million people to flee the country since 2015, triggering a regional emergency.