SANTIAGO – Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz has invited Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to the presidential inauguration of President-elect Sebastian Piñera on March 11.
Earlier this week, Muñoz had said that Chile will not support “military or any other intervention” in Venezuela, saying they instead support an electoral solution to the situation in the South American nation.
“We will never be in favor of military or other intervention in Venezuela, we oppose coups and the use of force, we want a peaceful, electoral, political solution to the situation,” he reaffirmed during a press conference on Wednesday.
His comments followed a statement from the “Lima Group” in which it was determined that Maduro’s presence at the 8th Summit of the Americas, to be held in Lima on April 13 and 14, “will not be welcome.”
Muñoz said that “invitations have remained unchanged since 1990”. “These are two different things: the Summit of the Americas is an eminently political forum, which is very different from the inauguration of a new government, where the States with which diplomatic relations are maintained are invited,” he explained.
All states are invited to participate, said Muñoz, responding to critics.
Also, on Wednesday, a group of Venezuelans living in Chile arrived in La Moneda to deliver a letter with 10,000 signatures, requesting that the invitation made to the Venezuelan leader be withdrawn.
“He is a person who violates human rights, he is a person who has caused thousands of Venezuelans to leave their country because we do not have food, they constantly violate our rights, of course it cannot be a pleasure for us to come, we expect a Chile’s toughest stance, “said Rosario Rojas, a Venezuelan who has lived in Chile for 14 years.
While Luis Zurita , who has resided in Chile for four years, said they know that “there are protocols, regulations, legal acts, which must be respected, but nevertheless what the Lima Group did yesterday I think is an important and forceful signal that effectively, once the invitation is made, the presence of a person in a certain country can later be rejected”.
March 11 will see Michelle Bachelet leaving the presidential office after the end of her four-year term.
Billionaire Piñera won with more than 54 percent of the vote on December 17. The Conservative leader ran on a slate of promised lower taxes to turbocharge corporate profits.
A Harvard-trained economist, Piñera made his fortune introducing credit cards to Chile in the 1980s.