CARICOM divided on Venezuela at OAS assembly

WASHINGTON – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries were divided on the issue of “free and fair” elections in Venezuela, with The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, and St Lucia all voting in favor of the resolution tabled at the 50th General assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) that ended here last week.

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines voted against the resolution, while Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago abstained.

The resolution indicated that there has been a lack of minimum democratic conditions to guarantee free, fair, and transparent elections in Venezuela. Twenty-one countries voted in favor, four voted against and nine abstained.

The resolution had been cosponsored by the delegations of Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

CARICOM countries have long indicated their policy of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the South American country where the United States and its allies are seeking to remove President Nicholas Maduro in favor of the Opposition Leader Juan Guaido.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders said his country refused to support the resolution because it recognizes Guaido as the President and Venezuela is not represented in the Western Hemispheric organization because the Maduro administration had withdrawn that country.

‘“Among the reasons that my delegation opposed the resolution is that it would require my government to accept the persons purporting to represent the government of Venezuela; a government which ceased to be a member State of this organization in 2019 having given due notice of its withdrawal in accordance with the Charter of the Organisation,” Sir Ronald said.

Earlier, US Acting Assistant Secretary, Michael Kozak, told the “Dialogue on Venezuela’s Multidimensional Crisis,” that the South American country is a “shadow of its former self.

“Once a prosperous nation, today its people are suffering from the lack of everything: no food or water, electricity and gasoline shortages, and insufficient access to medical care and medicine to name a few,” he said.

He denounced the planned December 6 parliamentary elections a “political fraud” insisting they “will in no way be free or fair.

“The condition of democracy in Venezuela remains dire. The National Assembly is the only legitimately elected democratic institution remaining in Venezuela, and the only branch of government not controlled by the illegitimate regime.

“Maduro stole the presidential election in 2018. We must not allow him to improve his situation legally or practically by stealing yet another corrupt and fraudulent election in 2020,” the US representative said.

“We urge you to recognize the democratically elected National Assembly and the Interim President until free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections are held because no legitimately elected legislature or president will have been chosen by Venezuelan voters to take their place.”