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PM Gonsalves writes CARICOM Heads on Venezuela Situation

PM Gonsalves writes CARICOM Heads on Venezuela Situation

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June 16, 2017

TO: Colleague Heads of State and Government of CARICOM

Dear Colleagues,

THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA

Thus far, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has acted wisely and maturely on “the situation in Venezuela”. In the process, our Ambassadors at the Organisation of American States (OAS), our Foreign Ministers, and our Heads of State and Government have rightly held aloft the enduring, fundamental principles of State-to-State relations, as manifested in well-codified internationalist legal precepts and rules, which touch and concern the defence and promotion of non-interference and non-intervention, sovereignty and independence, solidarity and friendship, peace and constructive dialogue, recognising always our shared commitment to representative democracy, the rule of law, and constitutional order.

These guiding principles and rules informed the Declaration of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM issued at the conclusion of their meeting on May 29, 2017, and which was ably presented to the gathering of Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors at the OAS in their Consultation on May 31, 2017. Several other countries in our hemisphere joined CARICOM in support of this Declaration. As a consequence, the minority member-states of the OAS who are itching for intervention in Venezuela, in pursuance of ignoble objectives under the tattered cloak of a contrived nobility, were kept at bay.

But those in quest of political hegemony, ideological revenge, and Venezuela’s abundant material resources have not been idle. History teaches that imperialism, neo-colonialism, and their allies never sleep. Simon Bolivar, José Marti, Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, Michel Manley, and Eric Williams, among the other of our hemispheric titans of yesteryear, have taught us all this, and more.

As I write, nefarious plans are afoot to sow deeds of division among CARICOM member-states so as to undo the majestic Declaration of the CARICOM Heads of State and Government of May 29, 2017, prior to, or at, the forthcoming OAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at Cancun, Mexico, on June 19-21, 2017. We in CARICOM must stand resolutely and unequivocally behind our Declaration.

It is inconceivable to me as a matter of good governance for Ambassadors, for whatever reason, to seek an unpicking of our Declaration so as to accommodate those who seek only a fig leaf quasi-juridical endorsement at the OAS for thinly-disguised imperial, hegemonic or narrow self-serving purposes. As far as St. Vincent and the Grenadines is concerned, only the Heads of State and Government of CARICOM possess the authority to amend or rescind an authoritative decision of the Heads. Any usurpation of such authority would render CARICOM a laughing stock and make its Heads’ decisions subject to a wholly unacceptable Ambassadorial reconstruction.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines sees no need to change our Declaration one iota. The circumstances in Venezuela are precisely the same today as they were on May 29, 2017. There is no credible basis to suggest to the Heads that accommodation be made to other member-states’ concerns relating to “humanitarian intervention”, “shortage of food and medicines”, a recitation of allegations of arbitrary arrests or political imprisonment, and a reconsideration of the constitutional initiative of the Constituent Assembly. These, and other like considerations, were fully ventilated at the meeting of the Heads on May 29, 2017. The language in our Declaration reflects the collective wisdom of the highest decision-making body of our Caribbean Community, it having taken into account all the relevant facts, law, and opinions.

There are those who argue that the language of our Declaration ought to be refined here and there. This is the consummate vanity of those who think that a political declaration is pristine literature or a literary masterpiece in-the-making.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is alive to the potential mischief of accommodating hegemons at the expense of fundamental principle and of exciting vainglory of literary amendments. Behind these seemingly innocent activities lurk grave dangers to the settled praxis of international relations, peace, and hemispheric order. Venezuelans must be allowed to resolve by themselves their intense political conflicts or challenges, without unwarranted meddling. To be sure, appropriate “good offices” can be urged to facilitate constructive dialogue and peaceful engagement among contending forces but, as small states in this hemisphere, the member-countries of CARICOM must never encourage or give support to driving a veritable horse and chariot through fundamental principles of international law. And we must not “play with fire” in permitting or collaborating with others to march Trojan Horses through the gates of Caracas.

I reiterate an earlier warning, too, that an activist quest for “regime change” in Venezuela is bound to destabilise the CARICOM member-countries particularly in the Southern and Eastern Caribbean. Venezuela has a population of 27 million possessed of abundant small arms, legal and illegal. A further exacerbation of the deepening political tensions by external intervention, in whatever guise, is likely to cause a flood of migrants, legal and illegal onto our lands and seas. Unwittingly, we may turn our peaceful geographic spaces into make-shift “refugee” settlements. Experience in today’s world teaches that this is not an alarmist scenario.

At the end of the day, it is imperative that we see the OAS not as a battering ram or a sword to be used in favour of one or another of the groupings of political combatants in Venezuela. The OAS, in our modern era beyond the ghosts of a debilitating Cold War, is required always to be a shield in defence and promotion of tried and tested civilised, and civilising, precepts of international law and relations. The resurrection of ghosts from the past, in whatever form or fashion, will be a huge mistake. We must avoid this. And we must remain united in CARICOM.

There is one final matter to which I must draw to my Colleagues’ attention: On June 08, 2017, persons unknown sprayed graffiti, in red, on the outer-walls of the official residence of the Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Venezuela. The words written in Spanish were: “Embajada cómplice de la dictadura”, the rough English translation being “Embassy accomplice of the dictatorship”. Protestors were also at the gates of the residence shaking it and shouting abuse. The Ambassador, his wife, and staff are quite safe. The governments of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are addressing the matter appropriately and without undue fuss or worry.

All the best to you, your families, governments and peoples.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves

Prime Minister

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