CARICOM reiterates position on Venezuela

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CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has reiterated its commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, where opposition forces have renewed their call for the removal of President  Nicolas Maduro from office.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here, said that a four-member CARICOM delegation, including Trinidad and Tobago’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses, as well as the CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque met last weekend in Mexico to discuss the crisis in the South American country.

“We reiterate our commitment to contribute to the efforts of the Venezuelan people to find a peaceful and democratic solution to their differences, in order to achieve peace and stability. We call on all actors to return to the path of a broad, credible and inclusive dialogue for that purpose,” according to the Declaration issued at the end of the meeting.

The Declaration reiterates the commitment of the signatories of the Montevideo Mechanism to contribute to efforts to find a peaceful solution to the problems confronting Venezuela through dialogue.

CARICOM has said in the past that the he Montevideo mechanism provides a guide to achieve peaceful resolution. Its core imperatives are dialogue, negotiation, commitment, and implementation.

“Further, the signatories reject the invocation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance in treating with the challenges of Venezuela and recognize the usefulness of confidence building measures in advancing the dialogue,” the Declaration noted.

It said that given that other initiatives have not yet been fruitful, “we underline our position in favour of a dialogue based on impartiality and trust, as proposed by the process by the Kingdom of Norway.”

“We reiterate our concern about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, urging all parties to guarantee the protection and respect for human rights,” the Declaration added.

The meeting also agreed on a “roadmap for future action”.

Last weekend, opposition party supporters took to the streets chanting “We are not afraid,” in the largest anti-government demonstration in months.

Political observers say while the action did not appear to match the anti-Maduro protests earlier this year, it still amounted to a major uptick from the smaller scale protests of recent months.

The demonstrators said they felt inspired by the uprising in Bolivia that saw a divided opposition unite, win the backing of the military and force the resignation of former president Evo Morales, a staunch ally of Maduro.

CARICOM has maintained its non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and the right of people to self-determination are core principles, which should not be violated.

Venezuela’s Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó, has declared himself the interim leader of the South American country and has been promptly recognised by several countries including the United States, Canada and some Latin American states.

But Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting Maduro, who was sworn into office in January this year for a second consecutive term as president.