Outgoing CARICOM Chairman Urges Region To Maintain Position On Venezuela

CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – Outgoing Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, Dr Timothy Harris, Wednesday praised the regional integration grouping for its stance on the economic and political situation in Venezuela, saying it must remain an honest broker in the South American country.

Harris, who is also the Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis, said the attempt at resolving the situation where opposition parties backed by the United States and some western countries are seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.

Harris, who is leading a three-member CARICOM team tasked with pushing the region’s position on Venezuela, told the opening ceremony of the CARICOM summit that “our engagement in the attempts at resolving the situation in Venezuela has clearly demonstrated that there is a role for us to play.

“It also is now quite clear that our principled stance enunciated from the outset and our approach is now being accepted by other parties.”

He said that CARICOM has held talks with various stakeholders on the issue and have consistently argued that the cardinal principles to undergird a resolution of the political crisis in Venezuela include non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, inviolability of the Sovereign State, respect for democracy, rule of law and the constitution of Venezuela, peace and resolution of conflict.

“Venezuela is our neighbour, and our member states are being affected by the crisis. For us, this is not a geopolitical game of chess. It is a situation creating hardships for millions of people right on our doorstep, fostering instability in our already fragile economies and exacerbating criminal activity.

“ We must make clear that CARICOM plays a role of honest broker. All stakes are high. The undermining of the Caribbean as a zone of peace; disruption of tourism and trade; uncontrolled migration with risks to health, and socio-economic problems in member states, compounded by illegal trade in arms, cannot be whisked away,” Harris told the ceremony.