(CMC) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries Monday reiterated the need for a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela even as they said they continue to follow closely “the unsatisfactory and increasingly volatile situation” in the South American country, reiterating their position of a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Caracas.
“It is with grave concern that we also follow the highly polarised and polarising circumstances surrounding Venezuela,” Barbados Ambassador to the United Nations, Liz Thompson, said as she addressed a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) In the Trusteeship Council on Tuesday.
Speaking on behalf of the 15-member CARICOM grouping, the Barbados diplomat said the regional countries are also fully aware of “words of bitterness and blame coming from both sides.
“The thoughts and sabre rattling by the internal and external contenders in this deteriorating situation. In all of this we are most concerned for and motivated by the plight of the people of Venezuela, who have been rendered powerless pawns…while others play a form of geo-political chess and brinksmanship,”she told the meeting.
Last week, St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, led a CARICOM delegation to Uruguay for talks aimed at ending the political crisis in the South American country where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, backed by the United States and several other western countries, has declared himself the interim leader of Venezuela.
But Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office last month for a second consecutive term as head of state.
The governments of Mexico and Uruguay had called for the conference with representatives from the main countries and international organisations that hold a neutralposition towards Venezuela.
Harris said the Montevideo Mechanism adopted at the conference presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela.
The Montevideo Mechanism is regarded as the initiative in response to the call by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to find a pathway to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and from a position of respect for International Law and Human Rights.
“We urge all parties inside and outside of Venezuela in the interest of the wellbeing of the people of that country to give the Montevideo Mechanism the time and space it needs to work. These United Nations know the painful experience of history both ancient and recent, the high and awful price of military intervention and the scourge of war,” Thompson said, adding that the CARICOM countries do not choose “one side or the other.
“We choose principle, the principle which led to the founding of this United Nations and the inclusion in its charter of Article 24, which calls for member states to refrain from the threat or the use of force.
“The principle which birthed Article 21 of the Charter of the Organisation of American States which recognises territorial inviolability. The principles of human rights, international law of the rule of law, the sanctity of national sovereignty, and the pivotal principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the pursuit of peace, of dialogue and compromise to ensure the preservation of the dignity and worth of the human person”.
Thompson told the conference that these principles are at the root of multilateralism.
“Indeed they are the very foundation on which this house in which we sit was built. Today we re-affirm our adherence to these principles. Critical for us too is the maintenance of the Caribbean and its wider region as a zone of peace.
“We remain steadfast in our view that economic strangulation and military intervention are not only counter to these principles, but will only exacerbate the already great suffering of the people of Venezuela”.
The Barbadian diplomat said that it is the contention of the Caribbean that ‘there must be a political solution that is crafted and owned by the Venezuelan people themselves and by their leaders.
“We support and call for a pathway to peace, forged not by threats but by dialogue. Not by escalating the tensions but by cooling them down. Not by marksmanship but by mediation. Not by the suffocation of sanctions but by the tools of diplomacy”.
She said those who wished for a peaceful solution and the prosperity of Venezuelans must actively encourage dialogue “where both sides seat, both sides talk and both sides listen, so that the common ground on which they can move forward may be found”.
Thompson said that it is in pursuit of this broad objective that CARICOM has offered itself to facilitate dialogue among all parties with a view to creating a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the South American country.
“We know too from the lesson of history …that peace and prosperity are indivisible. The people of Venezuela have already suffered enough. They deserve to live in peace. They deserve a future that offers prosperity. We urge all sides, difficult and complex though it may be, to enter into a constructive dialogue and to work together to build the pathway to peace for the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela,” Thompson added.