KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday March 20, 2019 – Against the background of the political crisis in Venezuela, the Jamaica government has decided to close its Embassy there, for now.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith said in a statement this morning that the Embassy in Caracas will close its doors temporarily, on April 1.
“We have been monitoring circumstances related to the operations of the Embassy, both in the wider context of our diplomatic representation review, as well as in the particular circumstances of the mission in Caracas. The Ministry along with its Embassy have been experiencing significant challenges in the operations at the post for some time, and temporary closure is now the practical solution,” she said.
During the period of that closure, the Foreign Minister explained, the management of Jamaica’s relations with Venezuela will be undertaken from the Ministry’s headquarters in Kingston.
Johnson Smith added that over the past two years, her Ministry has been reviewing its resident diplomatic presence overseas, due to the ever changing global environment and the emergence of new patterns of trade and investment as well as technical and economic cooperation.
And she said that later this year, there will be further announcements regarding Jamaica’s diplomatic representation overseas, “including openings where we believe our presence could be mutually beneficial to us and our host country”.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim leader last month, continues to be supported by the United States and other Western nations in his attempts to force President Nicolas Maduro from office.
Amid the political battle, citizens continue to deal with food and medicine shortages that have driven more than three million people from the country since 2015, according to the United Nations.
The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet also charged today that Venezuelan security forces, backed by pro-government militias, have quashed peaceful protests with excessive use of force, killings and torture.
Addressing the Human Rights Council, Bachelet cited allegations that the National Police’s Special Actions Force had executed 37 people in January in Caracas in illegal house raids in poor areas supporting the opposition.