Johnson Smith urges country to reconsider
Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has sent an appeal to the Venezuelan government, urging the crisis-hit state to reconsider pulling out of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The invitation to reconsider followed an announcement by Caracas on April 26 that it would be withdrawing from the OAS, a move it said was in response to a Washington-backed campaign against the ruling United Socialist Party that is meant to trample on the sovereignty of Venezuela.
But speaking at the 29th meeting of consultation of ministers of foreign affairs at the headquarters of the OAS in Washington last week, Johnson Smith said that it was regrettable that the Nicol·s Maduro-led government decided to cease relationship with the organisation.
"For Jamaica, as well as for CARICOM states and others, suspension of Venezuela from the OAS is not desirable and it is regrettable, therefore, that Venezuela has decided to withdraw from membership," Johnson Smith said.
She told her colleague foreign ministers that while Jamaica highly favours meaningful dialogue and discourages the isolation of Venezuela, "we are united in our view that respect for certain fundamental values and principles, including the maintenance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, are valuable and pertinent in addressing the grave concerns we have about the situation in Venezuela".
Johnson Smith maintained the view that the OAS is the best regional mechanism to deal with the social, political and economic crisis facing the oil-rich socialist country.
And as Venezuela continues to drift into the fringes of international diplomacy, Johnson Smith made it clear that Kingston was ready to lend any support that would be appropriate and helpful.
"We reiterate our willingness to participate in a 'group of friends' mechanism, to offer any assistance that will facilitate renewed dialogue and negotiation between the government and the opposition, so as to alleviate the serious challenges facing Venezuela and the people of Venezuela," she said.