A row has broken out after Nicolas Maduro, the polemic president of Venezuela, accepted an invitation to attend the December 1 inauguration of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as the next president of Mexico.
The National Action Party (PAN) sent a letter of complaint to Lopez Obrador’s transition office, noting that “there is sufficient evidence to confirm that Nicolas Maduro is a dictator who does not respect human rights or even the most basic public liberties.”
The missive continued, calling his regime “an authentic tyranny, in which a factional group monopolizes power at the expense of the people.”
Around 30 PAN federal legislators staged a protest November 5, taking over the podium of the Camara de Diputados, holding up placards reading “No to Maduro.”
By reaching out to Maduro, Lopez Obrador risks alienating the other 13 members of the Lima Group, a multilateral body of 14 mostly Latin American nations that has put pressure on Venezuela and criticized the breakdown of democratic order in the country, demanding the release of political prisoners and free elections. A day after the May 21 elections in Venezuela, the group issued a declaration refusing to recognize Maduro’s victory.
More than 75,000 Mexicans have signed a petition on Change.org calling for Lopez Obrador to withdraw his invitation to Maduro. In addition, 19 current and former heads of state have urged the president-elect to rethink the matter. Among them is former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who invited the late Hugo Chavez to his inauguration in 2000. Fox has dismissed the comparison, saying that Chavez’ was not considered a dictator at that time and had just won what was viewed as a clean election in Venezuela.
Fifteen heads of state have confirmed they will be attending the December 1 ceremony, including King Felipe VI of Spain, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Colombian President Iván Duque and Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay. Vice President Mike Pence will represent the United States. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Great Britain’s opposition Labour Party — a personal friend of Lopez Obrador — will also attend.
Reports suggest Venezuelan exiles in Mexico are planning to hold a protest in the capital on December 1 against the visit of Maduro. They are hoping thousands of Mexicans who also abhor the Maduro regime will also participate, the reports say.