St Vincent PM warns CARICOM of plot against Venezuela

KINGSTON, St. Vincent, May 16 2017 – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has cautioned the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to refrain from allowing a small group of powerful nations to dilute the “collective strength” of the 15 member regional grouping.

Gonsalves, in a three-page letter to CARICOM leaders, warned that a wedge is being driven through CARICOM over a plan for “regime change” in Venezuela and the group of powerful nations with the Organisation of America States (OAS) has an “agenda of naked self-interest”.

He said the group has “strategically invited select CARICOM countries to their meetings and ignored the others. In the result, they have succeeded in disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries whose only strength lies in our solidarity. This worrying development has been particularly manifest in matters relating to Venezuela,” said Gonsalves in a letter dated May 10.

“There is clearly a calculated strategy in place by a group of nations to achieve regime change in Venezuela by using the OAS as a weapon of destruction,” he added.

Gonsalves said while CARICOM countries may have concerns about the political, economic and social conditions in Venezuela, “we are all sufficiently seasoned political leaders to know that toppling a government will not end those conditions, particularly when there is no viable, electable single alternative to replace it”.

He acknowledged that CARICOM member states could have a role in promoting dialogue to help resolve the conflict in Venezuela –  he warned fellow regional leaders against allowing themselves “to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends”.

Gonsalves also stated that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro was a “chosen and willing tool” in the plot to topple the Nicolas Maduro administration.

In March, Almagro proposed that Venezuela should be suspended from the OAS until fresh elections are held, but the proposal received little traction.

Meanwhile, representatives from 18 OAS member states have approved a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for May 31 in Washington to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.

In recent weeks, there has been growing unrest across Venezuela, with several killed and others injured as they have called for elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign humanitarian aid to offset the economic crisis, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled legislature.

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