Venezuela's Maduro cancels participation in regional meeting

Venezuela's Maduro cancels participation in regional meeting

President says there are 'extravagant plans’ by ‘right-wing extremists' to attack him in Argentina

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro decided Monday to cancel his trip to the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Argentina, saying there are plans by “the neo-fascist right” to disrupt his visit.

In explaining his decision, Maduro said there are "extravagant plans” underway “designed by right-wing extremists" to attack him.

"In the last few hours, we have been informed, in an irrefutable manner, of a plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right wing, whose objective is to carry out a series of aggressions against our delegation," the Venezuelan government said in a statement.

Hours earlier, it had been reported that Maduro would hold a bilateral meeting Monday with Brazil’s new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Buenos Aires. Later, the Brazilian government announced that Caracas had canceled the meeting.

Lula has restored diplomatic relations with Venezuela after he was inaugurated on Jan. 1. Relations between the countries were severed in 2020 by Brazil's former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro amid mutual recriminations with Maduro.

Maduro has avoided leaving his country after the US accused him of crimes including drug trafficking and possession of weapons and offered $15 million for information leading to his arrest in March 2020.

"They intend to put on a deplorable show, in order to disrupt the positive effects of such an important regional event, and thus contribute to the discrediting campaign -- already a failure -- that has been launched against our country by the North American Empire," the statement by the Venezuelan government said.

CELAC is a regional forum that promotes collaboration and development between Latin American and Caribbean countries. This year’s meeting comes at a time when leftist leaders in the region including those of Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Mexico are focusing on regional integration.

Brazil has rejoined the group after Bolsonaro had suspended the country's participation back in 2020. ​​​​​​​

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