A wedge is being driven through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) over a plan for “regime change” in Venezuela, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is cautioning.
In a three-page letter to CARICOM leaders and heads of state, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, Gonsalves complained that the 15-member grouping was allowing “a small group of powerful nations” within the Organization of American States (OAS) to dilute CARICOM’s collective strength by dividing the regional states in a bid to overthrow the Venezuela government.
“A handful of powerful countries with an agenda of naked self interest has strategically invited select CARICOM countries to their meetings and ignored the others. In the result, they have succeeded in disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries whose only strength lies in our solidarity. This worrying development has been particularly manifest in matters relating to Venezuela,” the Vincentian leader wrote in the letter dated May 10, 2017.
“There is clearly a calculated strategy in place by a group of nations to achieve regime change in Venezuela by using the OAS as a weapon of destruction,” he added.
Gonsalves did not name the offending countries, but Venezuela, like Cuba before it, is convinced that the body is a slave of the United States.
The Vincentian leader also wrote that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro was a “chosen and willing tool” in the plot to topple the Nicolas Maduro administration.
The Uruguayan had proposed in March that Venezuela should be suspended from the OAS until fresh elections are held, but the proposal received little traction among several members, including Peru, whose president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has been one of Latin America’s more vocal critics of the Maduro administration. However, both the White House and US lawmakers have supported Almagro.
Gonsalves said while CARICOM countries may have concerns about the political, economic and social conditions in Venezuela, “we are all sufficiently seasoned political leaders to know that toppling a government will not end those conditions, particularly when there is no viable, electable single alternative to replace it”.
He said there was a role for CARICOM in promoting dialogue to help resolve the conflict in Venezuela.
However, he warned fellow regional leaders against allowing themselves “to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends”.
The Vincentian prime minister said it was the very countries seeking the regional grouping’s support to promote their agenda that would throw Caribbean countries under the proverbial bus once their mission was accomplished.
“The countries that lure our nations into supporting their agenda are the ones that are neglectful of our situation and who worsen them by their actions on matters such as the withdrawal of correspondent banking and branding our countries as money launderers, and drugs and firearms traffickers. When they have accomplished their objectives, by breaking our solidarity through having some of us side with them, we will all be relegated to the margins of their concerns-only weaker than we were before,” he cautioned.
Gonsalves has remained a staunched supporter of the Maduro government, amid growing unrest across Venezuela, with at least 38 people killed and hundreds injured during protests that began in early April to demand elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign humanitarian aid to offset the economic crisis, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled legislature. Maduro accuses the protestors of seeking a violent coup.
Representatives from 18 OAS member states have approved a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for May 31 in Washington to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.
At the time of writing the letter the meeting was being considered for May 22, not enough time according to Gonsalves for thoughtful attention to “a serious matter”.
He had appealed to his colleagues to demand a delay, possibly until the eve of the OAS general assembly
It was not clear if he intended to approve his country’s participation in the May 31 meeting.