CARICOM holds out hope for peaceful solution in Venezuela

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (second from left) poses with CARICOM Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Dr. Keith Rowley, Dr. Timothy Harris, Grenada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David and CARICOM SG Irwin LaRocque

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC –  On Monday Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders held talks with United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and the permanent representatives of Canada, Russia, the European Union and the African Union, on the ongoing political situation in Venezuela.

Committed to a Zone of Peace

A communique issued following the talks at the United Nations noted that the Caribbean leaders had expressed their “grave concern over the untenable situation” in the South American country and “strongly urged that further deterioration would seriously aggravate the plight of Venezuelans.  The Caribbean Community is steadfast that the region must remain a Zone of Peace,” the communique stated.

The United States is leading a number of western and Latin American countries in recognizing the Venezuelan Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó, who last Wednesday declared himself the interim leader of the South American country.

Washington and its allies have accused Maduro of suppressing democratic rights in the country and have called for his removal. Caracas has broken off diplomatic relations with Washington and Maduro has accused the powerful North American country of engineering a coup to remove him from office.

The CARICOM delegation, was led by its chairman and St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris and included  Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. During their deliberations with Guterres” the Caribbean leaders emphasized  CARICOM’s commitment to the tenets of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which calls on states to refrain from the threat or the use of force. CARICOM has been consistent in the critical importance it accords to the key principles of non-interference and non-intervention.

Urgent need for meaningful dialogue

“CARICOM reaffirmed the view that there was an urgent need for meaningful dialogue leading to a peaceful internal solution for the Venezuelan people. The Caribbean Community is resolute in its belief that it is never too late for dialogue since the consequences of no dialogue will be dire,” said the delegation that also included Grenada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David and the CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.

“Further engagements will take place in the next few days as the situation remains fluid,” the communique noted.

Optimism expressed

Earlier, in a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, stated the regional leaders had expressed optimism that the UN would assist in establishing the roadmap towards peace and security for Venezuela.

In that statement, Prime Minister Rowley expressed hope that in the not too distant future there will be significant improvement and a diminishing of tensions in Venezuela.

“We believe in the coming days there will be work towards dialogue so that the internal difficulties in Venezuela can be approached without intervention and interference from those who may have a different approach,” Rowley said in the statement.

The meeting with the UN Secretary General followed an emergency meeting of CARICOM leaders last Thursday where it was decided that the regional body should engage the global organization.

The 15-member CARICOM grouping has remained divided on the issue and earlier this month, with five countries recently supporting an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution in not recognizing the second five-year term of Maduro. Four countries voted against the measure, and  five abstained during the vote.

However, In the statement following last week’s regional conference,  the regional leaders nonetheless “reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.

Last weekend, a senior UN official told the UN Security Council that all actors must exercise maximum restraint and avoid any further escalation.

“The protracted conflict in [Venezuela] has had a grave impact on the population, with high levels of political polarization, growing humanitarian needs and serious human rights concerns,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

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