Barbados has reiterated the need for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace and insisted that only the Venezuelans could decide on the future of the South American country even as President Donald Trump was gearing for a meeting with selective Caribbean leaders on Friday on the economic and political developments in Venezuela.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has been a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation meeting with regional and international stakeholders on the Venezuelan crisis, told Parliament on Wednesday night that “instability in Venezuela will undermine peace in the southern and eastern Caribbean as we are already seeing in Trinidad and Grenada.
“We have been in a zone of peace in the Caribbean for so long that we are in danger of underestimating how important it is for us to have a peaceful region. If God forbid there is military intervention in Venezuela, it would destabilise this region for a very long time and we could be living with the adverse social and human effects for a very long time after relating to refugees and other social instabilities that come with the movement of guns and trade of guns for basic food items,” she told legislators, while delivering her administration’s 2019-20 national budget.
CARICOM leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts-Nevis last month reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó with the support of Washington and its allies are seeking to replace President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term earlier this year.
In late January, regional leaders, led by the CARICOM chairman Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris and including Mottley and Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, met with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing optimism that the UN will assist in establishing the road map towards peace and security for Venezuela.
The delegation also participated in a meeting in an international meeting in Uruguay where the Montevideo Mechanism was adopted saying it presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela”.
President Trump will meet with the leaders of the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Friday to discuss Chinese economic intervention in the region and the extant political and economic crisis in Venezuela among other matters.
The Caribbean leaders invited had in January supported a resolution at the Organization of American States (OAS) in not recognizing Maduro’s second five-year term.
While she made no specific mention of the upcoming meeting, Prime Minister Mottley reminded legislators that CARICOM has sought to play a global role in pressing for and offering to be a supportive forum for dialogue between the parties in Caracas.
“We believe that must come as we said. If we try to impose externally it will never be sustainable and Venezuela is a country with almost 30 million people and the consequences with respect to what it can do, not only to Colombia, Guyana on its borders, but to those of us in the Caribbean Sea that is also its border is of significance to us.
“We are neither pro-Maduro or anti-Maduro. We are neither pro- Guaidó or anti- Guaidó, but we are pro-stability and pro the Caribbean remaining as a zone of peace and anything that alters that stability must be of concern to us.
“The world is a difficult place in which to live today and people may begin to understand that those who believe that might is right feel that they have the only solution, but we all know better from biblical times that might was never always right. You only have to speak to the book that speaks to David and Goliath,” she told legislators.