GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday January 25, 2019 – Amid global division over whether the opposition leader who declared himself Venezuela’s interim leader should be recognized over the elected President Nicolas Maduro, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) says it will not intervene, but it is calling on the United Nations to try to help resolve the political crisis there.
On Wednesday, amid anti-Maduro protests, 35-year-old leader of the opposition and head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido declared himself acting president in a move welcomed by huge crowds of protesters and several world leaders, including the United States.
The development came a week after Maduro was sworn in for a second term in office, following disputed elections that were widely regarded by some in the international community as a sham poll.
Following an emergency meeting via video-conference yesterday evening, under the chairmanship of St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, CARICOM Heads called for a peaceful resolution to the “unsatisfactory situation” in neighbouring Venezuela.
While the leaders reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy, they reiterated “the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy.”
As such, Prime Minister Harris, in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, will seek an urgent meeting with the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres to request the UN’s assistance in resolving the issue.
“Venezuela, of course, is part of the Caribbean region and any adverse development there would have serious ramifications for the peace and orderly development of Member States within the region. So we will continue to hold a watching brief and constructively engage with the principal actors in Venezuela and the actors everywhere to ensure that we preserve the region as a zone of peace,” he said.
In an official statement issued immediately after the meeting, CARICOM Heads emphasized the importance of maintaining the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, citing Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter which calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability.
In this regard, the Caribbean leaders are also calling on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilize the situation and called on all actors, internal and external, “to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region.”
Following Guaido’s declaration that he was Venezuela’s interim leader and the support he received from the US, Canada, and some Latin American and European countries, Maduro remained resolute and ordered US diplomats out of the country within 72 hours.
He subsequently recalled Venezuela’s diplomats from Washington, but the US is adamant its diplomats in Caracas will stay.
Maduro has so far received the backing of Russia, Cuba and China.