Argentina leaves Lima Group, says bloc's Venezuela policies have 'led to nothing'

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina said on Wednesday it would withdraw from the “Lima Group” of Latin American nations, blasting the regional bloc’s policy of isolating Venezuela under President Nicolas Maduro and noting it has “led to nothing.”

The Lima Group was established by 12 Latin American nations in the Peruvian capital in 2017, with the goal of helping to restore democracy in Venezuela` through a “peaceful and negotiated solution.”

Argentina’s foreign ministry said it agreed with the group’s mission but said that the “participation” of the Venezuelan opposition, led by Juan Guaido, in the bloc had “led to the adoption of positions that our government has not and can not stand by.”

Argentina under right-leaning former President Mauricio Macri was a strident critic of Maduro, but his successor, the center-left Alberto Fernandez, has since backed off that stance.

“The best way to help Venezuelans is by facilitating an inclusive dialogue that does not favor any particular sector, to achieve elections accepted by the majority with international oversight,” the foreign ministry said in the Wednesday statement.

Argentina added that sanctions and blockades against Venezuela, together with the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, “have only aggravated the situation of its population. and, in particular, that of its most vulnerable sectors.”

The Lima Group includes Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia and Peru, among several other smaller Latin American nations.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Alistair Bell