The 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is not about to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, despite the recent uprising against the Nicolas Maduro administration.
The matter came up for discussion on Wednesday at their three-day summit in Grenada, with a Caracas delegation headed by foreign minister Samuel Moncada in attendance.
In a joint statement issued ahead of the conclusion of the summit, regional leaders reaffirmed CARICOM’s guiding principle of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principle of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
The leaders also called for “all parties to commit to engage in renewed dialogue and negotiations leading to a comprehensive political agreement with established timetables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation for the well-being of the nation”.
Venezuela has been shaken by violent clashes in recent months between government supporters and opposition forces, seeking to remove Maduro.
So far more than 50 people have been killed in the now daily demonstrations that have plunged the country into social and economic crisis.
Just Wednesday, about 100 government supporters burst into Venezuela’s opposition-controlled national assembly, where they beat up several lawmakers.
Witnesses said the confrontation came after an assembly session to mark the country’s Independence Day.
Military police guarding the site stood by as intruders brandishing sticks and pipes broke through the gate, according to international news reports.
With Muduro vowing to investigate the acts of violence, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told regional reporters in St George’s on Wednesday that he favoured a CARICOM delegation going to Venezuela.
“Of course that would have to meet the approval of both the government and the opposition,” he said, adding that “we would like to see a peaceful resolution to the situation.
However, regional leaders have indicated a willingness to facilitate “constructive dialogue” among all relevant parties in the South American country. In this context, sources say CARICOM Chairman Dr Keith Mitchell, who is also the Prime Minister of Grenada, had been mandated to write to the relevant stakeholders outlining the offer.
“We cannot ignore what is going on in a country with which all of our member states have had strong historic ties; and one with which countries such as Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago share maritime borders,” Mitchell said at the summit opening on Tuesday evening, adding, “these realities, combined with our international record of standing up for political order, democracy and respect for human rights, ought to inspire us to arrive at a clear stance on this current crisis in Venezuela”.