CARICOM countries divided on OAS vote on suspending Venezuela

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza at the OAS General Assembly

WASHINGTON– Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries were split last week when the Organization of American States (OAS) voted to pass a resolution that can initiate the process of Venezuela’s suspension from the organization.

The General Assembly voted with 19 member states in favour – including The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica; four against – including Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines; and Belize, Grenada, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago among 11 abstaining.

The resolution vote called for an extraordinary assembly to decide on whether or not to suspend Venezuela.

Venezuela rejected the OAS Assembly’s decision, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza saying it would enable the United States to continue its economic war against the socialist country.

“Those that have supported this are supporting the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela. Let that be on your conscience,” he said.

The vote comes on the heels of President Nicolas Maduro’s widely condemned re-election last month.

Maduro won a May 20 vote that the Venezuelan opposition, along with the United States and other Latin American nations, have decried as a sham cementing a dictatorship which has devastated a once-prosperous economy.

“I’m glad we are recognizing that democracy matters. We will not recognize illegitimate governments,” Carlos Trujillo, the US representative to the OAS, told the assembly after the vote.

The resolution declares that the electoral process “lacks legitimacy, for not complying with international standards, for not having met the participation of all Venezuelan political actors, and for being carried out without the necessary guarantees for a free, fair, transparent and democratic process”.

It urged the Venezuela government to: take steps to guarantee the separation and independence of the constitutional branches of power and restore the full authority of the National Assembly, the rule of law, and the guarantees and liberties of the population; and allow the entry of humanitarian aid and to implement epidemiological surveillance measures in its country to prevent the aggravation of the humanitarian and public health crisis, particularly against the reappearance of diseases such as measles, malaria, and diphtheria.