South American defence ministers against intervention in Venezuela

Paramaribo – Defence ministers of South American states have spoken out against intervention in Venezuela. The ministers said at the close of the annual Defence Council meeting of the Union of South American States Unasur in Suriname that the “social and political unrest” in Venezuela should be viewed as an internal matter.

“Venezuela is a sovereign country and the country should be given room to solve its internal conflicts with the mechanisms that it has at its disposal. We should respect the country’s sovereignty and the foundations of non-intervention,” said Ecuador’s Defence Minister Carlos Larrea.

The violent protests that have split Unasur member Venezuela in two camps were high on the agenda of the conference. The disturbances that erupted between pro- and anti-government protesters have so far claimed six deaths. Last Monday Suriname issued a statement on behalf of Unasur, appealing for a non-violent resolution and calling on both sides to uphold the principles of democracy.

Unasur’s sentiments were echoed by the Organisation of American States (OAS). The US also spoke out against the violence, but its concerns were rebuked by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who charged that the anti-government protesters were being backed by the US. Maduro succeeded Hugo Chavez as President after Chavez died in 2012 and has tried to maintain the same anti-US hard line the illustrious leader had been notorious for.

The statement by the Unasur defence ministers left no room for doubt whether Venezuela had South American support to find its own way out of its internal troubles; the ministers said they were showing solidarity with Venezuela and that it was “inappropriate for others to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.”