CARICOM Leaders to Participate in International Conference on Venezuela

Dr Timothy Harris

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris will lead a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation to Uruguay for an international meeting on the ongoing political situation in Venezuela.

Harris, who is the CARICOM chairman, will be accompanied by his Barbados counterpart, Mia Mottley and the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. keith Rowley.

CARICOM leaders met by video conference on Thursday to discuss their latest initiative to end the situation in Venezuela where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, backed by the United States and several other western countries, has declared himself the interim leader of the South American country.

But Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office last month for a second consecutive term as head of state.

A government statement issued here said that the CARICOM meeting on Thursday was attended by regional leaders or their foreign ministers from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts- Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque also participated.

The governments of Mexico and Uruguay have called for the conference on February 7 with representatives from the main countries and international organisations that hold a neutral position towards Venezuela.

The purpose of the conference is to lay the foundation for establishing a new mechanism for dialogue that, with the inclusion of all Venezuelan forces, will contribute to restoring stability and peace in that country.

But Guaido said Friday he has turned down the request to participate in the talks and had written to the leaders of both Uruguay and Mexico urging them to back the struggle to remove Maduro.

Last week, CARICOM leaders met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterras in a bid to get the world body engaged in the Venezuelan situation.

CARICOM has maintained an non-interventionist position regarding Venezuela and has offered to acts as a independent broker. – CMC