Latin America Needs to Learn From the Lima Group’s Failure on Venezuela

Latin America Needs to Learn From the Lima Group’s Failure on Venezuela
Opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido addresses members of the Lima Group via broadcast, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 23, 2019 (AP photo).

In August 2017, after a particularly harsh crackdown on protesters by Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, 12 other countries in the hemisphere formed a new group in an attempt to respond. The Lima Group, as it was called, came together with the goal of improving human rights and humanitarian conditions in Venezuela, as well as pushing for a democratic transition there. The 2017 crackdown was not the first one carried out by Maduro’s regime, but it was a particularly jarring moment punctuating years of brutal repression and economic mismanagement, which had caused widespread hunger and economic collapse, leading millions of Venezuelans to flee the country. In addition, the group intended to provide another vector for leadership in the region, as an alternative to the United States, whose policy they feared was becoming erratic under the administration of then-President Donald Trump.

After Maduro and his party blatantly stole a presidential election in late 2018, members of the Lima Group were so convinced of the illegitimacy of his rule and the need for a transition that it recognized the de jure government of Juan Guaido, who was declared interim president by the Venezuelan National Assembly in January 2019. Every member signed on to a document stating they recognized Guaido and invited representatives of his government to become a formal part of the organization.

Today, it is clear that the Lima Group failed to achieve its lofty goals. Since its formation five years ago, every country in South America has seen a transition of power except Venezuela—and some more than one. Yet Maduro sits more comfortably in Caracas now than he did before the Lima Group was created. At this point, of the 12 original members of the Lima Group, at least five have turned from Guaido and now recognize Maduro’s regime as the legitimate government of Venezuela. Brazil’s former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who is running against current President Jair Bolsonaro in the October election, will likely add to that number next year.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.