Caribbean Countries Urged to Condemn US Interference in Venezuela

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Khafra Kambon

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Caribbean countries are being urged to condemn
moves by the United States to interfere in the political affairs of the Venezuela.

Last August, US President Donald Trump said he was “not going to rule out” a
military response in Venezuela, adding that it was “certainly something that we
could pursue”.

The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) as well as the Joint Trade Union
Movement (JTUM) and the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) have
accused the Donald Trump administration of seeking to overthrow the Nicolas
Maduro.

ESC chairman Khafra Kambon, speaking at a joint news conference on
Sunday, said refugees from Venezuela could flood Trinidad and Tobago if
military intervention is allowed to take place in Venezuela.

“The face of our region can change overnight in a way that would be very
dastardly for all of us who live in this region,” Kambon said.

“I want to appeal to the public to recognise what it would mean if you had the
destabilisation in Venezuela that has taken place in all these areas that the
United States has gone to bring democracy, and is in the process of bringing
democracy – Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere they have
brought democracy so far, we are seeing displacement and degradation and
we would not want to have that on our borders,” he said, adding “it is also
going to affect a flood of refugees coming to Trinidad and Tobago, it is really
going to change things substantially for us as well.”

Last week, the United Nations issued guidance on treating Venezuelans as
“refugees”, while the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned
that the outflow into neighbouring countries such as Colombia constitutes a
“humanitarian disaster.”

“The movements are taking place for a variety of reasons, including insecurity
and violence, lack of food, medicine or access to essential social services as
well as loss of income,” Aikaterini Kitidi, spokesperson for the Office of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said.

“While not all Venezuelans leaving are prompted to do so for refugee-related
reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while all may not be refugees,
a significant number are in need of international protection.”

Since 2014, there has been a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of
Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide.

The UNHCR’s guidelines encourage States to ensure Venezuelans have
access to territory and refugee procedures.

JTUM general secretary Ozzi Warwick told reporters that any attempt to
destabilise Venezuela would ultimately destabilise the entire region including
Trinidad and Tobago which is approximately seven miles from the Venezuelan
mainland.

“We are calling for the peace and stability and for the non-interference into the
political process in Venezuela and to allow the people of Venezuela to
determine their own destiny. Presidential elections in Venezuela has been
announced, it will be May 20 and in all of the elections thus far all of the
necessary authorities have always confirmed that these elections have been
free and fair,” he said.

Warwick, who was an observer to the 2015 parliamentary elections in
Caracas won by the opposition, reiterated that “any attempt to interfere and
destabilise Venezuela will ultimately destabilise the entire region”.

MSJ political leader David Abdulah said Trump has made open threats to
remove Maduro.

“It is very important that small countries like Trinidad and Tobago and other
countries in the Caribbean respect these international principles (between
states) and adhere to them because if we don’t stand up and speak out
against the United States and others who wish to violate those principles by
interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela, or infringing on the sovereignty
of Venezuela by military aggression, then what would happen to us as much
smaller countries?

“We then we will have no voice speaking out for us if intervention by external
forces take place in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

The communique issued at the end of the CARICOM leaders’ inter-sessional
summit in Haiti earlier this month made no reference to the situation in
Venezuela, but at the full summit in Grenada last year, the regional leaders
“reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for
human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-
intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states”.

They called for “all parties to commit to engage in renewed dialogue and
negotiation leading to a comprehensive political agreement with established
time tables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation for
the well-being of the nation” and offered to “facilitate this dialogue”. – CMC

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