Caricom Should Speak UP. Bahamas Should Not Be Wobbly

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(The statement issued below by Caricom at the OAS meeting called to deal with the situation in Venezuela falls short of the mark. It is mealy mouthed and ineffective. It is time to take stronger action on Venezuela. The situation within the country is deplorable and the government there must be told in no uncertain terms that Caricom expects it to call elections to resolve the impasse and call them now. It also expects the government there to stop shooting its people down in the streets. This mealy mouthed statement is useless. – Editor)

2 June 2017

Mr. Chairman, Colleague Foreign Ministers, Secretary General Almagro, Distinguished Representatives,

Good afternoon. I have the honour to address you on behalf of the Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in my capacity as member of the Bureau of the CARICOM Council of Foreign and Community Relations.

Mr. Chairman,
CARICOM Member States have followed with deepening concern, as other member
States of the Organization of American States, the challenging situation in Venezuela. We have decried the rising violence taking place and deplored the resulting increase in the number of deaths and destruction of property.

Venezuela is not only a sister state of the Organization, but also a neighbour. Its active solidarity towards the Caribbean Community over the years, during good times and bad times, as well as its support for this hemispheric organization have been deeply appreciated. It is therefore not surprising that we are all deeply affected by the challenges confronting this Member State.

Mr. Chairman,
A sign of the seriousness with which the Caribbean Community views what is taking
place in that country has been reflected by the recent convening of meetings of the most important councils of our Community to discuss the matter. We re-affirm the principles of maintenance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as to the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non- interference in the internal affairs of states. We were united in our view that respect for these values and principles would prove valuable and pertinent in addressing concerns over the situation in Venezuela. Persuaded that the solution to the present situation in Venezuela had to be sought internally, supported by a process of dialogue, we hold the view that the deeply entrenched positions needed to be softened so that trust could be built on both sides. We therefore call on both sides to step back from the brink, to undertake gestures and actions that herald willingness to bridge the existing divisions so that dialogue can be facilitated, so that the people of Venezuela could peacefully overcome their challenges.

Mr. Chairman,
The Caribbean Community believes that the hemispheric organization of which we are all members can play an important mediating role when one of our Member States finds itself in politically difficult straits. To do so, the Organization can offer its good offices to facilitate dialogue and peaceful resolution. To do so, it must remain impartial and objective. To do so, we all need to abide by the principles of the Organization’s fundamental documents as well as by the values and principles that underpin multilateralism – respect for sovereignty and independence, non- intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. Our willingness as an organization to assist should never trample on these principles. Such actions can only make a difficult situation intractable.

Mr. Chairman,
We look forward to productive and successful consultations on this matter of
immediate and critical importance.

Thank you.