Venezuela is still hoping that Barbados will support of the embattled Nicolas Maduro administration in an ongoing fight with the Organization of American States (OAS), despite a vote last month by Bridgetown against the South American nation.
Caracas’ point man here Wednesday suggested his government had forgiven the Freundel Stuart Government for the April 26 vote, in which Barbados joined 18 other countries, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia, in approving a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the deteriorating political and economic situation in Venezuela.
“I have to respect the decision and we are friends; we are friends of Barbados. You have some friends sometimes that want the best for you and they react to what they think is best. We just want respect for our sovereignty, we want respect for our independence, we want to be free and we want the support of the Caribbean for our sovereignty,” Head of Mission Francisco Manuel Perez Santana told journalists at a news conference at the embassy in Hastings, Christ Church.
Venezuela has been hit by a series of violent protests since early April, that have left at least 34 people dead and hundreds injured, as the opposition ramps up the pressure on Maduro to call overdue elections.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has been pushing for Caracas to be suspended from the hemispheric body if it did not swiftly hold general elections amid the economic crisis, and the Spanish-speaking nation threatened to withdraw its membership in the organization after the Washington-based OAS last week floated the idea of the foreign ministers’ meeting, now likely to be held on May 21 or 22, according Peru’s foreign minister Ricardo Luna.
Perez Wednesday said Maduro had been given assurances by Stuart that “he will never act against the Venezuelan people”. It was not clear if these assurances were given before or after the vote.
“In the recent past they had discussions about the two countries and the president [gave] the reasons why things are happening in Venezuela and the Honourable Freundel Stuart heard what he was saying,” Perez said.
Just last week, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves warned that a wedge was being driven through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) over a plan for “regime change” in Venezuela.
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 OAS to dilute CARICOM’s collective strength by dividing the regional states in a bid to overthrow the Venezuela government.
While Gonsalves did not name the countries said to be behind the efforts to topple Maduro, Almagro has the support of the organization’s largest member states such as the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Colombia.