Last Wednesday, Jamaica and the United States both appealed to Venezuela to uphold human rights and allow for free and fair elections in the South American country.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both expressed disappointment with the actions of the Nicolas Maduro government that Washington has sought to isolate in recent years.
Tillerson, who arrived in Kingston on Wednesday as part of a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean, told a news conference that both the United States and Jamaica had a strong commitment to democratic value.
“That is why we are both heartbroken to see what’s happening in Venezuela what was once a thriving democracy dismantled before our very eyes,” Tillerson said, adding “it’s the reason we intend to take all action possible to persuade the regime to return to full constitutional authorities to the hand of the Venezuelan people.
“As to any future steps the US might take regarding sanctioning oil or products to put more pressure on the Maduro regime, we are going to take in the full consideration the impacts on regional countries as well,” he said, adding that he had “a good exchange” with Holness regarding that issue.
He said the meeting had provided an opportunity of getting not only Jamaica’s position “but the prime minister’s perspective on other countries on how they might be affected.
“We will be looking at what other actions the US might take to mitigate the negative impact of that,” he said, telling reporters he did not want to elaborate on that issue.
Want Venezuela to enjoy democracy
Holness said Jamaica has always supported human rights as well as peace in the region “and Jamaica wants to see the people of Venezuela being able to enjoy their democracy.
“This is a principle that has nothing to do with any other country. This has always been Jamaica’s position. We wish the best for the people of Venezuela,” he said, noting that the island does not now import oil from the South American country as it used to do in the past under the PetroCaribe initiative that Caracas had instituted several years ago to help regional countries deal with the high cost of petroleum products on the global market.
Venezuela’s all-powerful Constituent Assembly has already indicated that presidential election could be held before the end of April, a move political observers say would benefit Maduro”s United Socialist Party of Venezuela and put the deeply fractured and embattled opposition at a severe disadvantage.