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CARICOM leaders meeting on Venezuela situation


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Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley (left) and his Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister , Dennis Moses at the CARICOM meeting on Venezuela Friday (OPM Photo)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 1, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader are meeting Friday to discuss the ongoing political situation in Venezuela, according to a brief statement from the Office of the Prime Minister here.

A message posted on the Office of the Prime Minister’s official Twitter account noted that he and Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister are participating in the deliberations. It gave no further details.

Last week, the regional leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago as well as the foreign ministers from Grenada and Suriname participated in a video-conference to discuss the situation in Caracas where President Nicolas Maduro is under pressure from to step down from office.

The meeting Friday follows the visit of a CARICOM delegation, headed by St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister and CARICOM chairman, Dr. Timothy Harris to the United Nations, where talks were held with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterras.

On Friday, Rowley told the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament that as a result of the CARICOM initiative to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Venezuela, other countries were now adopting the “non-interventionist position”.

The United States is leading a number of western and Latin American countries in recognising Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, while Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting President Maduro, who was sworn into office earlier this month for a second consecutive term as head of state..

Washington and its allies have accused Maduro of suppressing democratic rights in the country and have called for his removal. Caracas has broken off diplomatic relations with Washington and Maduro has accused the powerful North American country of engineering a coup to remove him from office.

Rowley told Parliament that as a result of the CARICOM initiative “other countries who have taken the non-interventionist position, countries that have abstained from taking sides…those countries are now in the position to and have accepted the initiative and in the very near future more definitive information would be available with respect to the initiative of Uruguay, Mexico and CARICOM”.

The governments of Mexico and Uruguay have called for an international conference of neutral countries to jump start a dialogue between Venezuelans.

They said that the conference is scheduled for Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital on February 7 and that they expect at least 10 countries and international organizations to participate.

“The purpose of the conference will be to establish the basis for a new dialogue mechanism that includes all the forces in Venezuela, in order to help restore peace in that country,” the two countries said in a statement.

But Guaido said Friday he has turned down the request to participate in the talks and had written to the leaders of both Uruguay and Mexico urging them to back the struggle to remove Maduro.

“At this historical moment that our country is going through, to be neutral is to be on the side of the regime that has condemned hundreds of thousands of human beings to misery, hunger and exile — including death,” he said, adding that the priority now is to end Maduro’s grip on power and usher in a transition by holding democratic elections.

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