(CMC) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries remain divided on the political situation in Venezuela where President Nicolas Maduro was sworn into office for a new term on Thursday.
Prior to the inauguration ceremony, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and St. Lucia supported an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution not recognising the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term as president of Venezuela, while Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname voted against the measure.
St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Belize abstained during the vote earlier this week, while Grenada was not present when the matter was put to the vote.
In the resolution, the OAS urged all member states and permanent observers to the hemispheric body to adopt, “in accordance with international law and their national legislation, diplomatic, political, economic and financial measures that they consider appropriate, to contribute to the prompt restoration of the democratic order of Venezuela”.
The OAS is calling “for new Presidential elections with all necessary guarantees of a free, fair, transparent, and legitimate process to be held at an early date attended by international observers”.
At Thursday’s inauguration, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, who is also the chairman of the 15-member CARICOM grouping, attended the event.
In his letter of invitation, Maduro had noted that Harris’ presence would provide “an unparalleled opportunity to continue strengthening the relations between our countries”.
Trinidad and Tobago was represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses, with Port of Spain reiterating that it has consistently said it recognised the government of Venezuela and that it stood ready to assist it as a neighbour.
“We have said to all our allies, we are a sovereign nation,” Communications Minister Stuart Young told reporters following the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Jamaica, which voted against recognising Maduro, was nonetheless represented at the event.
A statement from Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that in June last year, the island joined other member states in supporting a resolution stating that their interest “has always and continues to be that of the well-being of the people of Venezuela.
“Jamaica stands ready to lend any support that may be deemed helpful and that could facilitate renewed dialogue to alleviate the serious challenges facing Venezuela.”
Kingston said it remains hopeful that dialogue will take place among the parties, “consistent with our position that the people of Venezuela should have the opportunity to resolve their various issues through dialogue at the national level”.
The Jamaica government said that even as it voted against recognising the Maduro government earlier this week, the country was represented by its embassy in Caracas at Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony “as a sign of our interest in remaining engaged with Venezuela, with which we maintain diplomatic relations”.