The South American Presidents' Meeting held in Brasilia witnessed a series of controversial exchanges among regional leaders, highlighting the complexities surrounding the situation in Venezuela. In that context, Argentine President Alberto Fernández engaged in a bilateral meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, aiming to foster consensus and reinforce mechanisms for regional integration in Latin America.
The meeting was held during the South American Presidents' Meeting held in Brasilia, hosted by Brazilian head of state, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The primary aim of this meeting was to foster consensus and reinforce mechanisms for regional integration in Latin America, the Argentine Presidency stated in a press release.
Significantly, both leaders emphasized the crucial need to normalize bilateral relations between Argentina and Venezuela. This empha¬sis stemmed from the fact that Argentine Ambassador Oscar Laborde had presented his credentials to President Maduro on July 25, 2022, while Venezuelan Ambassador Stella Lugo had reciprocated the gesture on August 29, 2022.
During the meeting, which witnessed the presence of Foreign Ministers Santiago Cafiero and Yván Gil Pinto, President Alberto Fernández urged his Venezuelan counterpart to reclaim representation for their nation in international forums and mechanisms, with a special focus on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).
Notably, Argentina was lauded for its efforts in facilitating dialogue among the Venezuelan population, aiming to establish a political resolution within the framework of institutional and constitutional mechanisms. The objective of such a resolution would be “to safeguard democracy and uphold human rights, while simultaneously contributing to the economic recovery and well-being of the Venezuelan people,” Argentine Government stated.
An uncomfortable presence for the other presidents
Nevertheless, other leaders at the meeting were critical with the presence of Maduro and the gesture Lula da Silva made on Monday at the Planalto Palace, where the Brazilian President told his Venezuelan counterpart that the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries “will be full.”
Leftist Chilean President Gabriel Boric openly expressed his disagreement with the statements made by Lula. The latter had claimed that the notion of authoritarianism in Venezuela was a constructed narrative, as he reiterated his support for Nicolás Maduro and his regime.
During the meeting, President Boric emphasized that he held differing views from Lula, stating that the situation in Venezuela is indeed serious. His remarks reflected the complexities and varying perspectives surrounding the Venezuelan crisis, highlighting the divergent opinions within the South American region regarding the political landscape in Venezuela.
Uruguay’s President Luis Lacalle Pou addressed the gathering and directly criticized the remarks made by his Brazilian counterpart regarding Venezuela.
During his speech, Lacalle Pou took aim at Lula's assertion that a narrative had been constructed against Venezuela. Lula had made these comments on Monday following his meeting with Nicolás Maduro in the Brazilian capital.
Lula expressed his belief that the meeting marked the beginning of Maduro's return to regional prominence and that the subsequent gathering with other leaders would signify the revival of South American integration.
Lula urged Venezuela to present its own narrative to counter the prevailing discourse of anti-democracy and authoritarianism. However, President Lacalle Pou's response at the meeting indicates a divergence in viewpoints among South American leaders regarding the situation in Venezuela and the narrative surrounding it.
Argentina's diplomatic moves
El presidente @alferdez mantuvo una reunión bilateral con su par venezolano @NicolasMaduro, y le pidió que Venezuela vuelva a los organismos y foros internacionales. Además, ambas partes subrayaron la importancia de la normalización del vínculo bilateral.https://t.co/vsfZluXPqy pic.twitter.com/hznq1mUngC— Casa Rosada (@CasaRosada) May 30, 2023
Following the meeting between Fernández and Maduro, Argentina proposed the development of a comprehensive roadmap in collaboration with both the ruling party and the opposition. The primary objective of this roadmap would be to address key aspects concerning the electoral process scheduled for 2024 and ensure the necessary guarantees for a fair and transparent election.
“The political solution to the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela must not be subject to external pressures or conditions in order to guarantee full democracy and respect for human rights,” Casa Rosada stated.