Patterson urges Caribbean unity on Venezuela

Saturday, June 01, 2019

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Former Jamaica Prime Mnister P J Patterson has urged Caribbean countries to maintain a unified position on the political situation in Venezuela, where o pposition forces backed by the United States and several other western countries are seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.

Patterson, who was addressing the launch of his book, My Political Journey at the Sagicor School of Business on the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on Thursday night, said that fragmentation would be suicidal amidst concerns that the 15-member grouping remains divide don the situation in the South American country.

Patterson said that the regional leaders need to speak with one voice on the matter, a clear reference to the positions taken by the leaders of St Lucia, Jamaica, The Bahamas and Haiti, who met with President Donald Trump on the matter in March.

Patterson said that at their meeting in St Kitts-Nevis, the regional leaders had arrived at a “common position persistent with the purposes of the treaty that repudiated external intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs.

“We expect all our 14 leaders to act in accordance with that decision and not to veer off in support [of those] who have a contrary view — whether in the halls of the OAS (Organisation of American States) or the corridors at Mar-a-Lago.”

Patterson told the ceremony that the Caribbean is a powerful entity, but only as a united voice.

“The Caribbean, we at the OAS are 14 nations strong; we have the voting power. Once we assert it as a single bloc to safeguard and protect our sovereign control, the Caribbean will prevail,” he added.

In his address, Patterson also provided some advice to his host Prime Minister Mia Mottley, on the regional integration movement.

“The failure of the federal experience has left a deleterious impact in the course of creating regional trust and confidence,” he said, adding 'we still suspect each other and that has impeded us in tackling certain stubborn problems that have which face the region.

“I mention but two — regional travel and transportation, and of course the central issue about which Sir Shridath (Ramphal, a member of the West Indian Commission on regional integration) spoke which emanated from a recommendation of his report — the whole issue of governance.

“And I say Prime Minister Mottley — with the utmost benefit of experience —whatever you do, Caricom will never achieve its objectives unless you have within it somebody, some group, some identifiable centre that is responsible for ensuring that decisions, when taken, are not forgotten but acted upon”.

In her address, Prime Minister Mottley said the publication by Patterson is designed to make the Caribbean a better place in which to live.

“I have come to recognise that P J Patterson represents, for me, that preeminent Caribbean statesman who has mastered every aspect of political life. The nobility of purpose, the gentility of manner, the calmness and expression and simply — a gentleman in all respects,” she said.


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