On 4 February, I attended a Lima group meeting in Ottawa at the invitation of the Canadian Foreign Minister. At the meeting I spoke to the Foreign Ministers of Colombia and Brazil about the crisis in Venezuela. I have also spoken recently to Chilean Foreign Minister Ampuero and Peruvian Vice-Foreign Minister de Zela. We continue to work closely with the Lima group, the Organisation of American States, the United States and like-minded European and international partners to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela.
The Labour party and its leadership have an unforgivable record of defending the Maduro regime, which is so toxic that people have started leaving the party. Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that this Government condemn the human rights abuses and the regression of democracy, and will continue to promote freedom and democracy and offer support to surrounding countries that are dealing with the refugee crisis as a direct result of this abhorrent regime?
I can give assurance to my hon. Friend on all those things. We are working closely with all international partners to find a resolution to the fact that the Maduro regime has completely bankrupted his country and made it destitute to the point where 3.6 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.
Throughout my visits to the region, it has become abundantly clear that the humanitarian situation in Venezuela is having a huge impact across Latin America. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to address the consequences of the continued political humanitarian abuse?
May I first congratulate my hon. Friend on all his work in the region as an effective trade envoy? He has built up some very good relationships to our benefit.
We are, of course, working with the Department for International Development to deliver a humanitarian aid package of over £6.5 million, on top of the multilateral activity to which we always contribute in such a significant way.
In its declaration last month, the Lima group called on the UN high commissioner for human rights to publish a report on human rights abuses in Venezuela. Can the Minister tell us what discussions he has had with the United Nations about this? Although the UN has been vociferous about the impact of sanctions on the regime, it has been strangely silent on the curtailment of the freedom of the press and other human rights abuses in Venezuela.
I am delighted to hear an Opposition Member raise the topics of the abuse of human rights and freedom, on which we have been speaking very loudly and on which we are working very deeply with the Lima group. The fundamental issue is Venezuela’s poverty. People cannot get basic goods, and the fact that President Maduro is blocking aid from getting into his own country is so contemptible that, on both sides of the House, we should all speak with one voice in condemning it.
Given the continuing humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela, does the Minister agree that we need to ensure that both the Lima group and other Government agencies in both North America and South America additionally press President Maduro to ensure that food supplies are delivered to the people of Venezuela?
Yes, indeed. All countries across the world have to do their bit. Canada and the European Union international contact group are doing a lot. We all have to work together, and one of the most concerning developments at the moment is that President Maduro is trying to strip Juan Guaidó of the immunity he enjoys as a member of the National Assembly. We in this House should send out a very clear message today that that would be utterly unacceptable and that Juan Guaidó is the interim President we recognise.