CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday August 9, 2017 – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is expected to make fresh overtures to Venezuela’s political leaders as the Spanish–speaking Caribbean country remains crippled by violent protests.
The move got the blessing of regional leaders yesterday at a special emergency meeting via a video conference convened Dr Mitchell.
The regional grouping is yet to issue a formal statement on the outcome of the talks, but a brief statement released by the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the heads exchanged “varied and robust views” during the three-hour discussion.
It also noted that talks “centred on promoting dialogue among stakeholders within Venezuela geared towards resolution of the political and social challenges in that country.”
Following the 38th annual Heads of Government meeting in St Georges, CARICOM leaders offered to mediate dialogue between Venezuela’s feuding political leaders.
In a response, President Nicolas Maduro said in a July 7 letter that he “wholeheartedly welcomes the valuable proposal…offering the good offices of CARICOM to reactivate an agenda of constructive dialogue among the political parties of (our) country”.
He had proposed a “working meeting” in Caracas on July 11 or 12, but that never took place since Dr Mitchell only received the letter on July 12.
The 15-nation grouping has argued a strong case for non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, but it has expressed deep concern about the “difficult political, economic and social situation in Venezuela, in particular the increase in violence and polarization between the Government and the Opposition, and its effect on the people of Venezuela”.
Since April 1, more than 120 people have been killed in anti-government protests.
In recent weeks, tensions have escalated as a controversial new 545-member constituent assembly was sworn into office after marred elections on July 30.
In the latest twist, the assembly has passed a law creating a “truth commission”, led by Delcy Rodríguez, who also heads the constituent assembly. Rodríguez said the commission would investigate “acts of violence carried out with political motives or out of intolerance”.