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Lima Group urges ICC to declare Venezuela aid blockade 'crime against humanity'

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The Lima Group of Latin American countries and Canada on Monday urged the International Criminal Court to declare Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's refusal to allow in humanitarian aid a "crime against humanity."

[BOGOTA] The Lima Group of Latin American countries and Canada on Monday urged the International Criminal Court to declare Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's refusal to allow in humanitarian aid a "crime against humanity."

The group of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido hit out at "the serious humanitarian situation in Venezuela, the violence of Maduro's criminal regime against the civilian population and the negation of access to international aid."

But it rejected the use of force to achieve a democratic transition in the South American country.

Mr Guaido, who was accepted as Venezuela's representative to the group, and US Vice-President Mike Pence attended the meeting in the Colombian capital.

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In its final statement, the group said "the transition to democracy must be conducted peacefully by Venezuelans within the framework of the constitution and international law, supported by political and diplomatic measures, without the use of force."

It also hit out at "serious and credible threats" made against Mr Guaido, who has been recognised by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president after declaring Mr Maduro a usurper over his disputed re-election in May.

Colombia's Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said "any violent actions against Guaido, his wife or family" would be met with a collective response from the Lima Group through "legal and political mechanisms."

While there was unity in Bogota, the Lima Group itself is divided.

Made up of 14 countries, four of those, including Mexico, weren't present at the meeting.

Mexico has led a band within the group that has abstained from its tougher stances against Mr Maduro and his government, although without directly opposing them.

Venezuela is suffering a humanitarian crisis marked by shortages of food and medicine - problems exacerbated by hyperinflation, which has rendered salaries and savings worthless.

Mr Guaido has launched a bid to topple Mr Maduro and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.

AFP