Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Caribbean leaders discuss on going situation in Venezuela

Published:Friday | August 11, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Pedestrians walk past a barricade made by anti-government demonstrators, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, July 31.

PORT-OF-SPAIN (CMC):

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders on Tuesday held "varied and robust views" on the ongoing political situation in Venezuela during a three-hour meeting.

No official statement has been issued by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat or from the office of Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who is the CARICOM chairman and who is reported to have convened the special emergency meeting by video conference.

However, the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a brief statement on Wednesday, said that the leaders who had participated in the video conference call had engaged in "varied and robust views" and that the meeting "centred on promoting dialogue among stakeholders within Venezuela geared towards resolution of the political and social challenges in that country".

CARICOM leaders, at their last summit held in Grenada last month, issued a statement reaffirming their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

But they noted that they were concerned about the "difficult political, economic and social situation in Venezuela, in particular the increase in violence and polarisation between the Government and the opposition, and its effect on the people of Venezuela".

As a result, the regional leaders "called for all parties to commit to engage in renewed dialogue and negotiation, leading to a comprehensive political agreement with established time tables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation for the well-being of the nation.

"In this regard, CARICOM Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate this dialogue," the communiquÈ said, noting that they had also mandated Mitchell "to communicate with the parties concerned in Venezuela about this offer".

While there has been no public acceptance of the CARICOM offer from the opposition, President Nichol·s Maduro, in a July 7 letter to Mitchell, said "he wholeheartedly welcomes the valuable proposal contained in that communiquÈ offering the good offices of CARICOM to reactivate an agenda of constructive dialogue among the political parties of (our) country".