Thu | Oct 22, 2020

Venezuelan crisis not up for discussion at CARICOM confab

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, updates the media on plans for Jamaica to host the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Montego Bay, St James from July 4 - 6.

The political crisis in Venezuela and the current relationship between CARICOM and the South American country will not be discussed at the upcoming Heads of Government Conference in Montego Bay, St James, early next month.

Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, said that Venezuela would not be on the agenda at the CARICOM conference to be held from July 4-6. "There are very many matters that directly impact us nationally than to have placed that particular matter on our agenda, which is being addressed in several international fora," the foreign affairs minister told journalists yesterday at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dominica Drive, in St Andrew.

In May, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order, imposing new sanctions on Venezuela that would bar United States companies or citizens from buying debt or accounts receivable from the Venezuelan government, including Petroleos de Venezuela, the government-owned oil company.

The socialist state is currently struggling as the economy faces a collapse as it teeters on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. In recent times, Venezuelans, suffering from food shortages, soaring prices, a broken-down health system, and mounting crime, have been fleeing their country.

Johnson Smith said that the only time Venezuela would come up for mention at the conference is when CARICOM Heads review the border dispute between the South American oil giant and Guyana.

Asked why Venezuela was not placed on the agenda, Johnson Smith said that there were many important issues to CARICOM as a regional bloc and to member states that had been identified for deliberation by the Heads of Government.

Outlining some of the issues to be debated, Johnson Smith said that the Heads of Government would use the three days of the conference to, among other things, discuss the single market and whether it was working. The question of whether the economy component of the Caricom Single Market and Economy might also come up for debate. The foreign affairs minister said that the question of how the region could deliver greater security to "our people through improved cooperation in our territorial waters" would also be on the agenda.