Mexican president meets Venezuelan opposition activist

MEXICO-WORLD: "We trust that, via an agreement between all sides, it will be the Venezuelans who re-establish the democratic order"
Photo: Carlos Jasso/REUTERS
Mexico City
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Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto received a leading Venezuelan opposition activist for the first time, in a policy shift that reflects Mexico's increasing assertiveness against the government of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro.

Peña Nieto's meeting with Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, and Antonieta Mendoza de López, mother to Leopoldo López, in the Mexican capital follows statements by the Mexican government demanding that democracy is "re-established" in Venezuela, where elections have been postponed.

"We trust that, via an agreement between all sides, it will be the Venezuelans who re-establish the democratic order," Peña Nieto said via Twitter late on Thursday after the meeting. President Peña Nieto also posted a photo with Tintori (R) in his twitter account acknowledging the encounter " I met with @liliantintori to discuss the current situation in Venezuela and to reiterate Mexico position towards it."

The position reflects deep concern about the humanitarian crisis of food and medicine shortages in Venezuela, as well as the Supreme Court's short-lived decision last week to take over the powers of the country's opposition-controlled Congress.

It is also seen by diplomats as helping support ties between Mexico and the government of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodríguez, last week slammed her Mexican counterpart Luis Videgaray's "betrayal" and called him "servile" after Videgaray said the situation in Venezuela was a "systematic violation" of democratic principles.

Mexico has taken a leading role in efforts at the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) to pressure the Maduro government under threat of being expelled from the regional diplomatic body.

"Peña Nieto is worried about what Venezuelans are living, Tintori said in an interview with Mexican media network Grupo Imagen that also referred to Mexico's role in the OAS.

The Mexican stance against Maduro's government is a shift from a traditional neutral approach to the politics of its Latin American neighbors. It brings Mexico in line with recently elected conservative governments in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru but puts it at odds with Venezuela's allies in the region.

Some in Mexican foreign policy circles had been pushing for Peña Nieto to receive Tintori as a message of support for the Venezuelan opposition. Tintori had previously met Videgaray's predecessor as foreign minister.


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