• Statement marks departure of close Brazil-Venezuela ties
  • All democratic nations should support referendum, Serra Says

Brazil’s government is putting pressure on Venezuela to hold a recall referendum on President Nicolas Maduro, who is imposing an "authoritarian" regime on his country, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Serra.

"Democratic countries throughout the world should advocate for the referendum," Serra told reporters in the Brazilian capital on Wednesday.

Serra’s comments come after Venezuela’s electoral authorities frustrated the opposition’s push to hold a recall this year that could result in new presidential elections. If the referendum occurs in 2017 and Venezuelans vote to oust the president, his political ally and second in command, Aristobulo Isturiz, would take over the top job until regularly-scheduled elections occur in 2019.

Serra’s open criticism of Venezuela’s government marks a stark contrast to the previous administration of President Dilma Rousseff, who repeatedly said she wouldn’t interfere in another country’s affairs. Her predecessor and fellow member of the leftist Workers’ Party, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was close to the late Hugo Chavez, who hand-picked Maduro as his successor.

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