The Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, stands firmly behind Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, a diplomat from St Vincent and the Grenadines said.
Louis Straker, the outgoing Chairman of the CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), said he is confident that CARICOM would not abandon Venezuela in its times of needs, adding that Venezuela had been “very good” to the Caribbean over the years.
“There are those who want to impose their will and stir up strife in Venezuela and we will not support that kind of thing. And no amount of pressure can be brought on St Vincent and the Grenadines or on CARICOM,” Straker, who is also the minister of foreign affairs of St Vincent and the Grenadine, said to reporters this week. “There might be one or two countries (that may have a different opinion), but overwhelmingly, CARICOM is in support of Venezuela.”
Straker’s comment came as regional foreign ministers gathering at COFCOR’s 20th meeting in Barbados to discuss primarily the situation in Venezuela.
Venezuela had seen growing violence in opposition-led protests since April, which had caused at least 40 deaths.
The opposition has decried Maduro as an autocrat who has wrecked the nation's economy and demanded elections to resolve the political crisis, while the government has slammed the opposition for endorsing violence in the streets.
Straker told reporters he was anxious for peace and stability to return to Venezuela and there was need for “some kind of dialogue between the opposing forces.” But he said that was becoming difficult because the opposing forces in Venezuela feel they have the Organization of American States (OAS) and some large countries on their side.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has already publicly expressed his concern that a small group of powerful nations within the OAS are using the organization and its secretary-general, Luis Almagro, to target and subvert President Maduro.
“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,” the Vincentian leader wrote in the letter to fellow CARICOM leaders last week.
At least five states of the 15-member group, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia, had broken ranks and voted in the OAS supporting a May 31 meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Venezuela.
Straker reminded those “straddling the fence” that Venezuela “has been pro-CARICOM and has done more for CARICOM than some of the big powers, and they should stand by Venezuela.”
“It is much to our detriment if we allow ourselves to be manipulated into a situation where we side with the bigger powers who are stirring up things in Venezuela and want regime change. We should not go that way,” he added.