Canada may lead regional effort to address Venezuelan crisis: sources

Canada could lead a regional effort to address the crisis in Venezuela, according to sources with knowledge of the diplomatic efforts in the South American country.

Earlier this week, Peru’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna publicly floated the idea of Justin Trudeau acting as a mediator for the Venezuelan crisis, citing the Prime Minister’s “global power role,” according to reports out of the country. The proposal comes after Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski recommended an international arbitration process to preserve democracy and avoid a “bloodbath” and refugee crisis in Venezuela.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail on the basis of anonymity, a veteran conflict mediator with knowledge of the diplomatic talks in Caracas confirmed that Canada is being considered to chair a contact group of governments to facilitate a negotiated settlement in Venezuela.

“There are a few potential advantages: Canada’s constructive influence and relationship with the U.S.; Trudeau’s and Canada’s good relationship with the left in the region, including Cuba; and Canada’s more neutral image generally in Latin America,” said the source.

More than 70 people have died in 12 weeks of street protests across the country, which began after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attempted to strip the opposition-dominated Congress of its powers.

“There is some discussion about Canada playing a role in a group of countries,” said a Western diplomat in Caracas, also speaking on the basis of anonymity. “Canada is not a shoe-in, but one of a group of countries bandied about.”

A Canadian government source said a contact group is one possible option but added that Canada hasn’t been formally asked to lead one.

However, experts say Venezuela is unlikely to accept Canada’s help – or any foreign government’s assistance for that matter – right now. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez tweeted on Tuesday that Venezuela rejects Peru’s promotion of an…

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