Tag: Caricom

Peace Possible- Maduro open to Mediation

Political instability in Venezuela had been simmering for over two years as the country reeled from an economic and humanitarian crisis spurred by plummeting commodity prices and bad economic policies that lead to massive hyperinflation, hunger, unemployment and the biggest refugee crisis in the Western Hemisphere. Last Wednesday, those tensions exploded when National Assembly president, Juan Guaido, in front of thousands of anti-government protesters declared himself interim president of the country, according to the Constitution, until free and fair elections could take place. The last general election was last May, when Maduro won in a contest widely condemned to be fraudulent, corrupt and illegitimate.

Following a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday in New York, a release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated that Rowley journeyed to the UN as a member of a Caricom delegation led by Dr Timothy Harris, Caricom chairman and Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis.

The delegation also included Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Caricom’s Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, and Ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago to the UN Pennelope Beckles.

Following the meeting intended to work out a strategy to lessen political tensions in Venezuela, peace and security in Venezuela and the wider region is now a real possibility.

“The meeting was useful and productive. We are very satisfied that at the appropriate moment the good offices of this UN would and could bring about some significant preparation of a road map for peace and security for Venezuela and the region,” Prime Minister Dr Rowley, who was part of the Caricom delegation, said in a recorded statement posted to the Office of the Prime Minister’s official social media accounts.

CARICOM’S POSITION

Caricom has maintained its position of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign states, but has offered to be a mediator to Venezuela, and agreed to call on the UN to assist in de-escalating tensions.

Since the fall-out on Wednesday, there has been a push by the United States, especially, to get countries to support Guaido.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an address to the OAS on Thursday, made a strong call for all members of the OAS to disavow Maduro’s presidency as illegitimate, morally bankrupt, economically incompetent and corrupt, a call he echoed during an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Saturday.

The US also yesterday announced sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA. PDVSA is the commercial entity currently engaging T&T and Shell as partners for the monetization of gas from Venezuela’s Dragon gas field.

The US said it would block the Maduro administration from accessing up to US$18 billion in assets, as well as any proceeds from Citgo, PDVSA’s retail chain, which will be locked away, until a democratically elected government can be put in place to reduce corruption and return these assets to the people of the country. This is the first time the US has taken a firm step to introduce direct trade sanctions.

Previously only key members of the administration and their close family members were blocked.

UWI International Relations Institute shares their view…

The UWI International Relations Institute has said that the geopolitical and economic spaces of Caricom states make them particularly vulnerable to fallouts from regional political tensions.

The question, though, is how long the Maduro administration remains and is Caricom prepared for the real possibility of impending change.

The US too, is a very important power for Caribbean countries but it is just one interested actor, so Caricom will need to consider other international actors who are important partners.

“Small states necessarily must consider their economic and political interests before pronouncing on regional political affairs. It is unlikely that Caricom is unaware of the human rights issues in Venezuela, but there are also important economic and geopolitical concerns,” the IIR said.

Most reassuringly, though, the Institute did not think war was on the horizon because military intervention by states in Venezuela will in principle, require a UN Security Council resolution, which is unlikely since a Security Council vote must be unanimous and China and Russia already have indicated their unwillingness to intervene. Regarding civil war and instability – Venezuela has been very unstable for many years now and Caribbean states have already experienced the economic and social consequences.

“It is in Caricom’s interests that a sustainable solution is found to Venezuela’s political and economic crisis. The economic projections do not seem to suggest that solutions are imminent with the Maduro regime.”

“From this perspective, it appears to be in Caricom’s interest to explore more nuanced positions that prioritise the well-being of the Venezuelan people,” the institute said.

Maduro Open to Mediation

Nicolas Maduro has said he is open to talks with his opponents in “Trinidad and Tobago or wherever.” In a speech to members of the Venezuelan diplomatic corps at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, on Monday, Maduro said his administration was “establishing contact with governments who offered to mediate.

“As I said to the Caribbean Prime Ministers today. They were in New York. They met with the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres. I spoke with all of them at length during the afternoon. I spoke with Evo Morales (President of Bolivia). We are also establishing contact with governments who offered to mediate dialogue and I told them I am ready once again in Venezuela or in Trinidad and Tobago or wherever to begin a round of conversations, dialogue, negotiations, with all of the Venezuelan opposition when and where they want them.”

PM- People find a way to make negatives out of everything

Al­though T&T is fac­ing a dif­fi­cult pe­ri­od fol­low­ing dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing last week­end, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley ad­mits he felt com­pelled to turn down help from Cari­com coun­tries be­cause “we have been cop­ing …. and cop­ing very well.”

Row­ley said he said noth­ing wrong by not ac­cept­ing help from our Caribbean neigh­bours.

At a sod turning ceremony for the new Diego Martin health centre yesterday morning, Dr Rowley said it was sad that at a time when the national spirit rose higher than expected, some people found a way to dim our light.

As he cel­e­brat­ed his 69th birth­day with smiles, an up­beat Row­ley said as cit­i­zens we con­tin­ue to pull our­selves down when we should be putting our­selves up.

“Peo­ple in this coun­try mis­er­able yuh know… can­tan­ker­ous … to the ex­tent that some­times they miss the flow­ers and they miss the gen­tle breeze.”

“They can find the way, if given a chance, to make negatives out of every possible thing. So I take the opportunity now to clarify a couple of things for the benefit of the national community.”

Row­ley not­ed that sev­er­al Caribbean prime min­is­ters had con­tact­ed him on Mon­day to ex­press their con­cern for the peo­ple of T&T. But he said when his Cari­com col­leagues called to of­fer help, it wasn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly im­plied or meant that they would hand the coun­try a cheque.

“What is wrong with us? When my Caricom colleagues, all of whom, from Suriname to Jamaica, called to commiserate with us and they said well if you need help we here, it is like somebody saying to you, ‘how you do’ and you start reading out your medical condition and the last visit to the doctor. These are not questions that require an answer. It wasn’t meant that they were going to hand us a cheque. It meant they were acknowledging we were in difficulty and they were standing with us firstly in spirit and secondly if physically they could contribute then they would,” Rowley said.

“There is an is­sue now that we were of­fered help from our Cari­com ter­ri­to­ries and the Prime Min­is­ter turned it down,” he said.

He said it was very easy for people to criticise.

Rowley said many people told him how close they came to death.

“It happened so quickly to those in the buildings but then people say the Coast Guard and army weren’t there.”

He said while there was very little that could have been done to prevent the flooding, as his government moved forward it would learn from the experience.

“Let us not pull ourselves down.

“As we go forward, let us be grateful as a people.”

Row­ley said the coun­try has to give thanks that hav­ing faced a 6.9 mag­ni­tude earth­quake in Au­gust and the re­cent floods, “Trinidad and To­ba­go can re­port that we lost no life and no limb.”