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CARICOM foreign ministers reiterate region's non-interference position on Venezuela

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC) — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers have reiterated the region's non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela where opposition forces backed by the United States are seeking to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The foreign ministers, who ended a two-day meeting on Tuesday, “expressed deep concern over the ongoing events in that country”.

The Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) meeting which was chaired by Grenada's Foreign Minister Peter David, said after receiving an “update” on the situation in the South American country “reaffirmed its guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, prohibition of the threat or use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the constitutional framework and democracy.

“The council reiterated CARICOM's position that the people of Venezuela must be allowed to determine their own future through a meaningful and internal dialogue between the contending parties<' according to the communique issued after the meeting.

“This dialogue must determine how best the crisis can be resolved within the confines of the constitution and the rule of law, whether by referendum, elections or any other agreed mechanism. To this end, CARICOM will intensify its efforts to engage in dialogue with all parties,” the communique noted.

Several people have been killed and others injured since the Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó, called on the military to support the move to remove Maduro from power. But the army appears to be remaining loyal to Maduro.

In January, Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's interim leader, and he has been recognised by more than 50 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and most of Latin America.

But Maduro, who won re-election last year, is being backed by Russia, China and Cuba.

During the two-day meeting, the foreign ministers reviewed the CARICOM-US relationship and underscored the need for the region to strategically consider its long-term engagement with Washington.

“The COFCOR stressed the need for intensifying contacts with representatives of both Houses of the US Congress.  Ministers also discussed the need for designing a policy to mobilise the CARICOM diaspora in the US in support of the Community's interest,” the communique noted.

It said the meeting also reviewed CARICOM-Cuba relations and the preparations for the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting to be held in Guyana on June 14.

“The council underscored the importance of the longstanding relationship with Cuba which is characterised by technical cooperation, trade and political relations, and mutual support for each other in multilateral fora.

“In light of the recent measures announced by the United States…they reiterated the community's firm support for the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba.”

The foreign ministers also noted the interest of Colombia to renew relations with the Community and agreed to participate in the inaugural CARICOM-Colombia Ministerial Meeting to be held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on June 29.