Government is being challenged to take a more definitive step in defence of Venezuela’s right to self-determination, following Barbados’ decision to abstain during a vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) on whether Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro’s second term should be recognized as legitimate.
Lecturer in Political Science at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Tennyson Joseph described government’s position as the “safest bet” given the country’s status as a “small, weak” state.
“I would have preferred to see them vote down the attempt to ostracize Venezuela,” Joseph said. However, he noted that with the reality of international politics and with the type of pressure faced by some of these states, Barbados and other CARICOM countries decided to play it safe.
“They did not want to associate themselves with a call for declaring Venezuela’s government illegitimate. An abstention is like a half step in a positive direction. They should have taken a definitive step to defend the right of countries to self determine.
Maduro was sworn in on Thursday for his second term following a heavily disputed victory at the polls amid a devastating economic crisis.
Barbados was among five countries including St Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize who abstained from the controversial vote.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member countries, however, remained heavily divided, with the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and St Lucia supporting the OAS resolution not to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term, while Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname voted against.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Joseph said Barbados should have voted in line with the principles of non-interference and against intervention in the affairs of other countries.
“Barbados should have made a clear statement on the matter. However it was still a better position than those who wanted to see Venezuela ostracized,” he said.
“I think there is a lot of diplomatic work to be done by those of us who understand the Venezuela situation, to put pressure on the Barbadian authorities to vote more affirmatively in defense of Venezuela in the future.”
Nevertheless, Dr Joseph said the decision would have been made under immense pressure by the United States of America “and other anti-socialist powers” in the hemisphere, to vote against Venezuela.
However, he chastised the government of St Lucia, his home country, as well as Jamaica, describing the leaders of both countries as “reactionary”. He challenged the leaders of both countries to declare their interest in the matter.
“What is in Jamaica’s interest or in St Lucia’s interest to join a group of countries that insists on reversing Venezuela’s socialism?” he questioned.
“What power does St Lucia have on the world stage or a country like Jamaica to declare a country like Venezuela, a regional power, illegitimate or to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, unless Jamaica and St Lucia are two pawns in a larger game which they do not understand or at least which they are pretending not to understand.
“Even in the 1960s and 1970s, the most reactionary states in the Caribbean always understood that they would not interfere in the internal affairs of third states. Why is it in the 21st century, with this new push of imperialism, Caribbean leaders are falling in line with imperialist policies in which they have no direct interest?”
While he noted that CARICOM member states were not often very united on matters of international importance, he encouraged Caribbean countries to return to the position coined by former Prime Minister, Errol Barrow as being “friends of all and satellites of none.”