Nations to urge Venezuela to revive 'democratic normality'

By Frank Jack Daniel

By Frank Jack Daniel

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico is working with several nations in the Americas on a common stance that urges Venezuela to re-establish "democratic normality," Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on Thursday, part of growing regional pressure on the South American nation.

Videgaray said Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Canada, Peru and the United States, among others, would discuss their position in the Organization of American States after a call by the head of the diplomatic bloc to expel Venezuela if it does not quickly hold general elections.

Mexico's decision to take a stance on the situation in Venezuela, which is suffering severe food and gasoline shortages, is a shift from a usual preference by Latin America's second-largest economy not to interfere in other countries' affairs.

"We should not continue to be indifferent, we cannot continue to be indifferent," Videgaray said, emphasizing that Mexico would act according to international law and in agreement with the countries of the Americas.

Videgaray said the nations were "still building" their common stance, and that it would not necessarily end up being a formal resolution in the OAS. Venezuela has numerous allies in the Americas, especially among small countries that receive subsidized oil from the member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Videgaray said the position would respect the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people, but that it would clearly urge dialogue between the government and the different political forces to reach a solution and "re-establish democratic normality."

Venezuela's election board in October suspended the opposition drive for a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro despite the country's crushing economic crisis, the government's unpopularity and public opinion in favour of a plebiscite.

In December, Venezuela delayed until 2017 elections for state governorships.

Luis Almagro, secretary general of the OAS and a former foreign minister of Uruguay, noted earlier this month that elections are key to allowing Venezuela to overcome severe food shortages and spiralling inflation.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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