Foreign ministers of 12 countries of the Americas urge UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to address the "crisis and continuing human rights violations" in Venezuela.

Opposition supporters hold placards that reads
Opposition supporters hold placards that reads "Deliver" as they attend a rally in support of Juan Pablo Guanipa, elected governor of Zulia state, in Maracaibo, Venezuela October 24, 2017. (Reuters)

Foreign ministers of 12 countries of the Americas on Thursday called on the UN to help fight what they called human rights violations in Venezuela.

The countries of the so-called Lima group issued the appeal after a meeting in Toronto.

They urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "to address this crisis and continuing human rights violations."

They also said Venezuelan gubernatorial elections held on October 15, in which President Nicolas Maduro's party won in 18 of 23 states, were marked by "acts of intimidation, manipulation, social coercion and voting conditioning, among other irregularities." 

A fierce power struggle has been raging for months between Maduro's left-wing nationalist government and the centre-right opposition.

Almost 130 people have died in the unrest since the beginning of April, according to data from human rights activists, and more than 5,000 people have been arrested.

The Lima Group is composed of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

Opposition governor dismissed

The newly elected opposition governor of Venezuela's western Zulia state was dismissed on Thursday by the pro-government local state legislature, adding to disarray among foes of the ruling socialists.

The sacking of Juan Pablo Guanipa, one of five opposition governors in Venezuela's 23 states, came after he refused to swear loyalty to an all-powerful national legislative superbody aligned with Maduro's ruling socialists.

"They held a secret, express session to remove him," Guanipa's spokeswoman Erika Gutierrez said of the morning meeting of Zulia's state legislature.

Opposition wins European rights prize

On Thursday, the European Parliament awarded the prestigious Sakharov human rights prize to the beleaguered Venezuelan opposition, calling for a "peaceful transition to democracy" in the crisis-hit country.

The prize was awarded to the Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by opposition parties, and to political prisoners.

Maduro's socialist government lashed out later on Thursday, accusing the parliament of rewarding terrorism.

"Violent and terrorist actions by the Venezuelan opposition are rewarded by the institutions of 'civilised' Europe," said Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies