Former Caricom heads reject use of force in Venezuela


PJ Patterson of Jamaica; Owen Arthur, Barbados; Kenny Anthony, Saint Lucia; and Lester Bird, Antigua & Barbuda

FIVE former prime ministers of Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries on Friday expressed great disquiet about political developments in Venezuela, and have rejected the use of force to resolve the issues.

The former heads of government — PJ Patterson of Jamaica; Said Musa, Belize; Owen Arthur, Barbados; Kenny Anthony, Saint Lucia; and Lester Bird, Antigua & Barbuda — also insisted that humanitarian aid, that they acknowledged is needed in Venezuela, “should not be politicised, but should be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations according to normal procedures, including the participation of the Government and other authorities”.

The joint statement from the former Caricom prime ministers come as tensions continue to soar in Venezuela over humanitarian aid.

On February 7 the Venezuelan army, on the orders of Pre

Said Musa of Belize

sident Nicolas Maduro, blocked the Tienditas Bridge on the border of Colombia, where several vehicles loaded with food and medicines are waiting to enter the country.

Maduro has vowed to prevent what he calls a “fake” aid “spectacle”, seeing it as a precursor for a US military intervention.

On February 12 Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela in a political showdown with Maduro, announced that US aid will enter Venezuela on February 23.

The United States has said that 25 countries have pledged US$100 million in aid to Venezuela.

On February 16 last, Guaido said that he has enlisted the support of thousands of people to help bring in aid from Colombia, Brazil and the Dutch island of Curacao.

Earlier this week,, Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd demanding to cross the Venezuela-Colombia border.

Here is the full text of the former Caricom leaders’ statement:

“We, former leaders of Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries of Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and Saint Lucia, concerned about the maintenance of the Caribbean as a zone of peace, express great disquiet about events surrounding the situation in Venezuela and the prospect of any action that is inconsistent with the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In this connection, we are concerned that no action be taken that would jeopardise these fundamental principles of international law.

We recall the importance of order in our hemisphere and the central importance of the United Nations system. The conduct of relations between nations necessitates adherence to, and preservation of accepted norms and principles, and we warn that any retreat from these norms and principles threatens peace and security and portends far-reaching consequences, including humanitarian suffering and the contagion of economic decline.

Acknowledging that there is need in Venezuela for humanitarian assistance, we believe that the delivery of such humanitarian assistance should not be politicised but should be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations according to normal procedures, including the participation of the Government and other authorities.

We categorically reject the use or the threat of force as a means of resolving the situation in Venezuela.

In a spirit of international democracy, we join the Caricom call on all nations to help promote a process of dialogue between all the parties in Venezuela to seek accord and to negotiate constructively a settlement of the internal challenges that confront the nation as a whole. We appeal to all governments to contribute to the process of peaceful negotiation by the Venezuelan parties in the interest of the people of Venezuela and the wider hemisphere.

None of the Venezuelan parties should be encouraged to eschew the process of dialogue, which alone can produce “a Venezuelan Pact” that is central to lasting peace and orderly economic and social restoration and progress.

Dated the 22nd day of February 2019.”