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No Caricom country should join unholy campaign to aid and abet others to get their hands on Venezuela

BY DAVID COMISSIONG

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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Today , May 18, 2017, Caricom ministers of foreign affairs will all be gathering in Barbados for a special meeting to discuss primarily the situation in Venezuela and the campaign that has emerged in the Organization of American States (OAS) to intervene in the domestic affairs of Venezuela by attacking President Nicolas Maduro and his United Socialist Party (PSUV) Administration.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has already publicly expressed his concern about the manner in which a small group of powerful OAS member states are using that organisation and its compliant secretary general, Luis Almagro, to target and subvert President Maduro.

Almagro is a former foreign affairs minister of Uruguay, and it has been reported that some 2o per cent of his postings on Twitter are linked to the campaign against President Maduro. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move for the secretary general of a multilateral organisation of governments, Almagro has met with representatives of the Venezuelan Opposition 26 times. Contrary to normal diplomatic protocol, Almagro has made numerous statements against the Government of Venezuela, including comments made while he was visiting other countries.

Prime Minister Gonsalves has also expressed disquiet about the manner in which Caricom governments have been permitting Almagro and the said small group of powerful nations to break their unity within the OAS and use them to advance their anti-Venezuela agenda.

Indeed, we Barbadians should be extremely concerned about the role that our country and our OAS Ambassador Selwin Hart have been playing at the OAS. Hart committed a major diplomatic blunder when, on April 3, 2017 he joined with 16 other ambassadors to the OAS to stage an outrageously unconstitutional and illegal meeting at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC — designed by a triumvirate of powerful nations, the USA, Canada and Mexico — to target, stigmatise and attack the legitimate Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Indeed, so outrageous were the actions in staging the meeting in defiance of the chairman of the Permanent Council of the OAS ( the ambassador of Bolivia) and the vice-chair of the council (the ambassador of Haiti) and in passing an “illegal” anti-Venezuela resolution, that the actions of Hart and his cohorts are being described by OAS officials, and by veteran statesmen like Sir Ronald Sanders, as “a coup d'etat following by a lynching”.

The people of Barbados, and the wider Caricom, should be made aware that when the ambassadors were holding their 'rebel' meeting the chairman of the Permanent Council of the OAS stormed into the meeting and informed them that they had no authority to stage such a meeting.

In spite of this, the ambassadors persisted with their illegal meeting and went on to propose and pass a resolution that, in effect, indicted the democratic-socialist Administration of President Nicolas Maduro and set the stage for an OAS intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

The end result of the outrageous folly of Hart and his fellow rebel ambassadors is that Venezuela has felt constrained to withdraw from membership of the OAS.

So, as a result, Barbados has played an unprincipled role in causing Venezuela — a nation that we respect and have friendly and fraternal relations with — to be hounded out of an important regional organisation.

As a citizen of Barbados, I consider this to be one of the lowest and most shameful episodes in our entire history of diplomacy as an independent nation. Surely, the Errol Walton Barrow – author of the motto, “Friends of all, satellites of none”— must be turning in anguish in his grave.

On behalf of the officers and members of the Clement Payne Movement of Barbados, I herby urge Senator Maxine McClean and all of the other Caricom ministers of foreign affairs in Barbados today to remember that the nations that they have the honour to represent possess a proud tradition of “speaking truth to power” and of taking courageous and principled collective Caricom positions in the international arena.

The Nicolas Maduro Administration was elected by the people of Venezuela in 2013 for a five-year term that comes to an end in the year 2018. No Caricom country should therefore find itself in an unholy campaign to aid and abet those forces that are so anxious to once again get their hands on Venezuela's tremendous oil resources that they are intent on unconstitutionally bringing down the Maduro Administration. To do so would be to do a severe injustice to our reputation as nations of substance, and to create an extremely negative precedent that will come back to haunt us and all other small nations in the years to come.

David Comissiong is president of the Clement Payne Movement.

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