Region polarised over turmoil in Venezuela

Significant divisions have emerged about the extent to which the Caribbean should respond politically to the growing internal crisis in Venezuela. Concern has also been expressed about the effect on regional stability if the situation deteriorates further, with fears that this could lead to a refugee crisis.

The divisions became public on April 26 at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which approved a resolution to convene a meeting of OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs to consider the situation in Venezuela.

At the meeting, the Venezuelan representative to the OAS, Carmen Luisa Velasquez, sought to have the resolution rejected, describing it as an interference in the country’s internal affairs.

A number of Caribbean countries voted in support of Venezuela. These included:

• Antigua
• Dominica
• Haiti
• Nicaragua
• St Kitts & Nevis
• St Vincent & The Grenadines
• Suriname

The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and St Lucia voted in favour of the resolution, whilst Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad abstained. Grenada was absent.

Venezuela subsequently decided to withdraw from the OAS in protest against the decision. The exit process appears likely to take two years.

In an indication of the further regional polarisation that could follow an increased deterioration in Venezuela’s internal situation, the country’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez made clear that the Maduro Administration saw the vote at the OAS as an attempt by conservative regional governments in the hemisphere “to facilitate regime change and foreign intervention”.

The matter has been made more complex by the decision of Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General, to make public his opposition to Mr Maduro’s government. His outspoken comments have been widely criticised, and were described in a recent statement by Bruno Rodriguez, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba (which is not an OAS member), as ‘frenzied’.

Meanwhile the internal situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate. After weeks of growing violence culminating in the deaths of at least 29 people, and widely supported street protests involving many working-class demonstrators, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has announced that he is to create a constituent assembly….

This is an extract from the Caribbean Council’s leading weekly editorially independent publication, Caribbean Insight, which provides in depth information on current economic, political and commercial developments in the Caribbean and news on events in Europe and the US that affect the region. Business people, academics, and those with a general interest in the Caribbean find it an invaluable tool for developing and maintaining knowledge and providing an insight into political, economic and commercial events in the region.

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