Caricom’s Heads of Government have agreed not to interfere in the state of affairs of Venezuela at this time. However, the 12 regional leaders who attended a video conference meeting on Thursday night will seek an urgent meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to request the UN’s assistance in resolving the issue peacefully.
The video-conference comprised leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, and the foreign ministers of Grenada and Suriname.
The Heads of Government also called on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilise the situation, underscored the need to step back from the brink and called on all actors, internal and external, to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region.
According to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Chairman of the conference, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris and the other Heads of Government agreed they would now seek an urgent meeting with the UN.
The statement said the Heads of Government are following closely the current “unsatisfactory situation” in Venezuela, a neighbouring Caribbean country, very closely and expressed grave concern about the plight of the people and the increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments which could lead to further violence, confrontation, a breakdown of law and order and greater suffering for the people of the country.
But the Heads 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.
“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. In this regard, Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis,” the statement said.
Reaffirming their commitment to the tenets of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter, which calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability, the Heads of Government emphasised the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace.
The Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy. They believe the UN will play a critical role in this process, hence the drive for an urgent meeting with its head.