WASHINGTON, Mar 20, CMC – President Donald Trump is to meet with a select group of Caribbean leaders as his administration openly and strongly supports Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó in the on-going crisis in the South American country.
The White House announced the president will meet with the leaders of The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic on Friday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach County, Florida.
The White House statement indicated Trump will reaffirm Washington’s “strong friendship with and commitment to the Caribbean and signal the importance of the region to the hemisphere.
Areas of discussion
“The president will discuss his vision for our diverse relationships in the Caribbean and the potential opportunities for energy investment,” said the statement, adding that Trump and the Caribbean leaders will also discuss Chinese economic intervention in the region and the existing political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts-Nevis last month reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Guaidó with the support of Washington is seeking to replace President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term earlier this year.
In late January, regional leaders met with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing optimism that the UN will assist in establishing the road map towards peace and security for Venezuela.
At the UN meeting CARICOM chairman and St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, led a delegation, which included his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Dr. Keith Rowley and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Guaidó, who has declared himself the interim leader of Venezuela, has also been recognised by several countries, including, Canada and some Latin American states, while Russia, China and Cuba remained supportive of President Maduro.
The Trump administration and its allies have accused Maduro of suppressing democratic rights in Venezuela and have called for his removal.
Caribbean countries have been divided on the Venezuela issue.
In January, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, Guyana and St. Lucia supported a resolution at the Organization of American States (OAS) in not recognizing Maduro’s second five-year term , while Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against the measure.
St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Belize abstained during the vote; while Grenada was not present.
But since then the regional leaders have adopted a united position on Venezuela reaffirming ‘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.
“Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy,” they said in a statement.
However, some political analysts in the region believe Trump could take advantage of any division between Caribbean leaders over Venezuela to further drive a wedge among them on the issue, and will use Friday’s scheduled meeting as a subterfuge to further intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs.