Five former regional prime ministers, including Barbados’ Owen Arthur, have expressed concern that the interventionist threats by some countries in response to the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela could have implications for peace within the region.
In a statement signed by Arthur, P.J Patterson of Jamaica, Lester Bird of Antigua & Barbuda, Said Musa of Belize, and Kenny Anthony of St Lucia, the former CARICOM heads of government maintained that the sovereignty of the neighbouring South American country must be respected.
“We former leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries of Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and St Lucia, concerned about the maintenance of the Caribbean as a zone of peace, express great disquiet about events surrounding the situation in Venezuela and the prospect of any action that is inconsistent with the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. In this connection, we are concerned that no action be taken that would jeopardize these fundamental principles of international law,” the letter stated.
In recent days, United States president Donald Trump has ramped up the rhetoric against the Nicolás Maduro administration. While he has not threatened war, he has openly stated that all options are on the table.
The US government has also flown tonnes of food and medical aid into Colombia, in hopes of taking it across the border into Venezuela. Maduro has vowed to use his military to block the aid, which he sees as a pretext for a US invasion.
However, although acknowledging the need for humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, the former regional prime ministers said “the delivery of such humanitarian assistance should not be politicized but should be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations according to normal procedures, including the participation of the government and other authorities”.
“We categorically reject the use or the threat of force as a means of resolving the situation in Venezuela,” they insisted.
The statement further noted that it would be in the best interest of CARICOM nations to facilitate dialogue with the aim of brokering peace.
“In a spirit of international democracy, we join the CARICOM call on all nations to help promote a process of dialogue between all the parties in Venezuela to seek accord and to negotiate constructively a settlement of the internal challenges that confront the nation as a whole.
“We appeal to all governments to contribute to the process of peaceful negotiation by the Venezuelan parties in the interest of the people of Venezuela and the wider Hemisphere,” they stated.
“None of the Venezuelan parties should be encouraged to eschew the process of dialogue which alone can produce ‘a Venezuelan Pact’ that is central to lasting peace and orderly economic and social restoration and progress.