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(SNO) — CARICOM Heads of government have expressed “grave concerns” over what they described as the “unsatisfactory” situation in Venezuela but is reaffirming their principles of non-interference and non-intervention in regard to the matter.
The heads met by video-conference on Thursday and offered the regional body’s assistance to resolve the crisis.
“Heads of Government are following closely the current unsatisfactory situation in Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a neighbouring Caribbean country,” a statement released after the meeting said. “They expressed grave concern about the plight of the people of Venezuela and the increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments which could lead to further violence, confrontation, breakdown of law and order and greater suffering for the people of the country.”
The political crisis in the Spanish-speaking South American country deepened on Wednesday this week when Opposition Leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela, a move which was quickly recognized by the United States.
Since then, President Nicolas Maduro, who retains the support of a handful of nations, broke off relations with the US.
At their meeting, the CARICOM heads said they were reaffirming their principle of non-interference and respect for sovereignty.
“Heads of Government reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy,” their statement said. “In this regard, Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis.”
The heads also reaffirmed their commitment to the tenets of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter which they said “calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability, the Heads of Government emphasized the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace”.
They also called on “external forces” to restrain from doing things that will “destabilize the situation and underscored the need to step back from the brink and called on all actors, internal and external, to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region”.
Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, is expected seek an urgent meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General to request the U.N’s assistance in resolving the issue.
Earlier this month, a number of CARICOM member states, including Jamaica, Guyana, The Bahamas, Haiti and Saint Lucia supported a resolution at the Organization of American States (OAS) not to recognize Maduro’s second term in office.
Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against the measure.
St. Kitts, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize abstained.