Fri | Nov 15, 2019

CARICOM concerned about “unilateral” stance of OAS on Venezuela

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2019 | 11:02 AM

GEORGETOWN,Guyana, CMC – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has chastised Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro about his “unilateral” stance in accepting Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.

In a letter to the Almagro, CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis Dr Timothy Harris said he was mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government to express the regional body’s “disapproval and grave concern with regard to the position that you, in your capacity as Secretary General, have adopted, by recognising the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido as interim president of (Venezuela). This action on your part, without the authority of the member states of the organisation, is considered inappropriate”.

The CARICOM chairman, in the letter dated January 31, said the decision to send the sternly-worded letter was taken at an emergency meeting of Caricom Heads of Government held on January 24, that had been convened to discuss the unfolding political crisis in Venezuela.

“The Heads of Government consider it imperative that you publicly clarify that you did not speak on behalf of all member states. We are aware this is not the only occasion on which you have made public utterances in the name of the (OAS) without authority. This type of unilateral action by a head of an international organisation, whose membership comprises sovereign states, is a clear departure from normal practise and cause for great concern,” the CARICOM chairman said.

The stance taken by CARICOM, follows a statement made by Trinidad and Tobago’s  Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who last week, following a meeting with United Nation’s Secretary General Antonio Guterras, defended CARICOM’s decision not to seek the intervention of the OAS in the matter, blaming the OAS Secretary General Luis Leonardo Almagro of “taking on personally the presidency of Venezuela and had been advocating, virtually an overthrow of the Venezuelan government".

“Trinidad and Tobago as a country under the rule of law and a long standing member of the OAS and knowing the OAS Charter had objected to that because we always knew that if the situation worsened, or even before it worsened that the OAS was our first port of call to have this matter dealt with through dialogue and negotiations.

“By the Secretary General without reference to us in the CARICOM, we don’t know who else he had referred to, but without reference to us here in the CARICOM, taking on from his office an attack on a member government that created a problem for the OAS,” Rowley then said.

“Now that this new parallel government was declared in Venezuela, once again without reference to us here as members of the OAS, the Secretary General went ahead and recognised the new interim president.

“Those development had the effect of deeming the OAS unsuitable to be an honest broker in a situation where we believe dialogue and negotiation is what is required to bring stability to the Venezuelan situation,” Rowley told reporters.

Guaido has challenged incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s power, declaring himself interim president of Venezuela, according to the constitution. Maduro’s presidency was illegitimate, he said, because the elections were illegal and fraudulent.