The Lima Group regional bloc said on Monday that it backed the re-election of opposition leader Juan Guaido as head of Venezuela's Congress after the government of Nicolas Maduro forced a separate vote imposing a new leader of the legislative body.
Venezuela's socialist government installed a new head of Congress, Luis Parra, on Sunday after armed troops blocked opposition legislators from entering parliament, in a move condemned by dozens of nations as an assault on democracy.
Opposition legislators responded by re-electing Guaido in a session at the headquarters of a pro-opposition newspaper, leaving the country with two claims on the role. Guaido is recognised by dozens of nations as Venezuela's rightful leader.
The Lima Group, minus members Mexico and Argentina, said they welcomed Guaido's re-election as the leader of Congress and as the country's interim President, repeating a condemnation of force and intimidation tactics used against lawmakers by the dictatorship of Maduro..
The election of Guaido represents a rejection of the reckless actions by Nicolas Maduro's regime that sought to prevent his appointment, the group said.
The Lima Group statement was signed by Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia, the last of which joined the bloc in December after the resignation of leftist leader Evo Morales.