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Costa Rica absent as Lima Group begins meeting on next steps in Venezuela crisis

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence took part in a meeting of the Lima Group in Colombia on Monday to discuss a joint strategy to resolve Venezuela’s crisis.

“In the Lima Group, we’re fighting to find a peaceful solution,” said Peru’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugo de Zela.

“We have reaffirmed again and again our commitment to a democratic transition [of government] and the restoration of constitutional order in Venezuela,” added Colombia’s Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo.

Holmes Trujillo added that the group of 15 nations, which officially added Guaido as Venezuela’s representative, was “trying hard to facilitate the opening of a humanitarian corridor to provide international assistance to alleviate, even if only partially, the serious humanitarian situation affecting so many Venezuelans.”

Venezuela is wracked by a humanitarian crisis following years of recession and hyperinflation that have left shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Guaido says 300,000 people face death if those supplies aren’t brought in urgently but Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro refuses to let it enter, claiming it would be a smokescreen to a US invasion.

De Zela criticized Maduro’s government for “the use of force and massive human rights violations” against those trying to bring in aid at the weekend.

He described the use of force as “unacceptable. It’s not the solution to what’s happening in Venezuela.”

Four members of the Lima Group skipped the meeting, Holmes Trujillo said.

Mexico, Costa Rica, Guyana and Saint Lucia were not present and have previously abstained from several of the group’s tougher positions towards Maduro’s regime.

“The moment has arrived to adopt further measures to isolate the regime,” added De Zela.

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