Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged $40 million USD (53 million CAD) in aid for Venezuelans.
Though the exact distribution plans have not been revealed, the funds will be used to “help those Venezuelans who have fled to neighboring countries in recent months due to an increasingly acute food shortage,” according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The announcement came during a week when Canada was hosting a meeting of the Lima Group. The group is a regional body — which includes Canada, Colombia, and the majority of nations in South and Central America — that was established last year as a formal effort to coordinate a regional response to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
Immediately upon its creation, the group denounced the National Constituent Assembly legislative body that was established in 2017 by Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro to usurp the National Assembly, the federal congress that had historically been in place and is now headed by Juan Guaidó.
The National Assembly remains the only high-ranking democratically elected organization in Venezuela that is recognized as legitimate by the Lima Group and many others across the world, including the United States.
In response to Maduro’s tactics to remain in power, virtually all the nations within the Lima Group have recognized Guaidó as the nation’s rightful leader.
Guiadó publicaly declared himself as the legitimate president during the mass protests in January that preceded Maduro being sworn in for a new term as president after winning an election last year that the international community has widely proclaimed to undemocratic and invalid.
“The international community recognized that there were not free and fair elections in Venezuela, and therefore Maduro is not the president of Venezuela in the eyes of the world and also in the eyes of Venezuelans,” said Trudeau this week.
Colombian President Iván Duque was among the many regional governmental leaders to recognized Guiadó as president. While at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last month, Duque also called for Maduro to “step aside to help usher in a “transition towards democracy, so that the Venezuelan people will be freed from the dictatorship.”
Canada had previously allocated at least 2.2 million CAD for Venezuelan relief. The United States, European Union, and United Nations have been major donors to the Venezuelan diaspora as well, contributing tens of millions of dollars.
At least three million Venezuelans have fled their country in recent years, according to the United Nations. At least one million of those are living in Colombia.
Last December, the United Nations projected the overall exodus to hit 5.3 million before the end of 2019, with Colombia expected to become the host to an accumulated total of 2.2 million Venezuelans by that time if the crisis continues unabated.