Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Still no idea - Ja's vote on OAS Venezuela resolution remains a secret

Published:Friday | June 23, 2017 | 6:00 AMJovan Johnson
Johnson Smith

The Foreign Ministry has been silent so far on Jamaica's voting position on the failed Venezuela resolution pushed by the United States and Mexico at this week's Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly.

The situation has also showed how deep the divisions in CARICOM are over how the countries of the Americas should respond to the political and economic crisis gripping the South American country being led by Nicol·s Maduro. More than 70 people have been reportedly killed in anti-government protests.

The OAS meeting of its 35 members ended on Wednesday without the inclusion of a mediation proposal in a final declaration. The US was hoping to get support for the creation of a "group of friends" to help mediate the Venezuela problem. But Venezuelan allies felt it was interventionist.

 

NO VOTES FOR CONSTITUTION REWRITE

 

On Monday, attempts to get a stronger resolution that would have called for the Maduro administration to "reconsider" an assembly to rewrite the constitution failed to get enough votes. It would have also called for an end to violence and for the respect of the separation of powers, Reuters news agency has reported. The proposal got 20 votes in favour when 23 were needed to pass the resolution.

According to a Miami Herald report, CARICOM nations St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and St Kitts and Nevis voted against, while Haiti, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and Barbuda abstained.

 

'Lapdogs of imperialism'

 

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, called countries that supported the US in its Venezuelan resolution "lapdogs of imperialism".

Though it would appear that Jamaica voted in favour of the resolution, there has been no word from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith.

A ministry official yesterday acknowledged Gleaner questions, but up to press time, did not provide a promised response. Jamaica supported a "valid and legal" OAS resolution on Venezuela in May, which Johnson Smith then told the Senate "should not be considered a vote against Venezuela".

Though affirming Jamaica's non-interference policy, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has received commendation for insisting that the OAS is the appropriate forum for talks on the Venezuelan issue. His Antiguan and Vincentian counterparts have taken a stronger stance against OAS talks, claiming that some CARICOM countries are being drawn by more powerful states into supporting regime change.

An official from Holness's office directed queries on the OAS Monday vote to the foreign ministry.

The splintered voting of the CARICOM states - many of whom benefit from favourable Venezuela oil loans - comes as leaders gear up for their annual meeting set for Grenada from July 4-6.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com