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CARICOM | Foreign ministers call for non-interference in Venezuela situation

Featured CARICOM Ministers of Foreign Affairs, representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and other officials pose for a group photograph at the conclusion of the 20th COFCOR Meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (B.Hinds/BGIS) CARICOM Ministers of Foreign Affairs, representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and other officials pose for a group photograph at the conclusion of the 20th COFCOR Meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (B.Hinds/BGIS)
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 19, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers have ended a meeting here Friday calling for non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela where at least 40 people have been killed in street demonstrations aimed at forcing the Nicolas Maduro government out of power.

In a statement issued here, the foreign ministers “decried the violence taking place and deplored the resulting loss of life and property”.

They said that they had deliberated on “deliberated on the changes taking place in the international environment as well as in their wider regional environment and on their implications for the coordinated foreign policy positioning of their countries.

“They reiterated the importance they accord to 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. These values and principles were viewed as being of paramount importance when addressing international situations of concern.”

Earlier this week, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves cautioned CARICOM to refrain from allowing a small group of powerful nations to dilute the “collective strength” of the 15 member regional grouping on the Venezuela issue.

Gonsalves, in a three page letter to CARICOM leaders warned that a wedge is being driven through CARICOM over a plan for “regime change” in Venezuela and the group of powerful nations with the Organisation of America States (OAS) has an “agenda of naked self-interest”.

He said the group has “strategically invited select CARICOM countries to their meetings and ignored the others. In the result, they have succeeded in disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries whose only strength lies in our solidarity. This worrying development has been particularly manifest in matters relating to Venezuela,” said Gonsalves in his May 10 letter.

He acknowledged that CARICOM member states could have a role in promoting dialogue to help resolve the conflict in Venezuela and he warned fellow regional leaders against allowing themselves “to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends”.

Gonsalves also accused OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro of being a “chosen and willing tool” in the plot to topple the Nicolas Maduro administration.

In their statement issued at the end of the 20th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), the foreign ministers said that they were “united in their view”  that respect for these values and principles in addressing international situations of concern “would prove valuable and pertinent in addressing concerns over the situation in Venezuela.

“Persuaded that the solution to the present situation had to be sought internally, supported by a mediated process, they were of the view that the deeply entrenched positions needed to be softened so that trust could be built on both sides in order to facilitate dialogue so that the people of Venezuela could peacefully overcome their crisis,” the statement noted.

It said that the ministers also”decried the violence taking place and deplored the resulting loss of life and property”.

On Thursday, the United States government said it would be imposing sanctions on members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court following a series of rulings that Washington said had usurped power from the nation’s opposition-controlled congress and sparked a deadly wave of unrest.

The U.S. Department of Treasury said it was freezing the assets of eight Venezuelan government officials on the Supreme Court in an effort to support the Venezuelan people “in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance.”

A ruling issued in late March that stripped Venezuela’s congress of its last powers was later reversed amid a storm of international criticism. But near-daily anti-government protests were triggered by the ruling and have continued across the country, with more than 40 people killed.

  • Countries: CARICOM