Wed | Dec 13, 2017

CARICOM 38 | CARICOM leaders say 'yes' to Venezuela mission

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 8:36 AMJovan Johnson
Gonsalves

CARICOM leaders have agreed to propose a mission team to crisis-hit Venezuela. Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, says the decision was taken during talks in caucus last night and away from media glare on Grenada's Calvigny Island.

"CARICOM is interested in offering its good offices. The Secretariat was given a mandate to draft a short statement on the principles of framework agreed upon," he told The Gleaner as he arrived for the final day of talks at the regional meeting of leaders in St George's.

The outspoken leader, who has warned against interference in Venezuela, said he saw a draft last night and "it is something I could live with".

Gonsalves, meanwhile, suggested that the appearance of unity on the upgraded CARICOM position is delicate.

"You can find a form of language to build a consensus but that doesn't mean that at the margin or even beyond the margin there are not still differences," he said.

CARICOM has been split on the approach the wider Americas is to take to help resolve the political crisis in the South American country from which many Caribbean states, including Jamaica, get oil at cheap loans.

Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had proposed the mission team to include some leaders which he said could help clarify CARICOM's understanding of the issues. He said yesterday that the team would have to be approved by the Nicolas Maduro administration and the opposition.

More than 80 people have been killed in anti-government protests now running over three months.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com