Following a meeting with a delegation from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres has offered to facilitate discussion to help resolve the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela.
The talks with Guterres at the United Nations came five days after Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president and received the backing of several countries, including the United States, Canada and the Lima Group, while President Nicolas Maduro remained resolute that he is the rightful leader and resisted international pressure to step down.
Following those developments, CARICOM heads met among themselves and agreed to seek an urgent audience with Guterres. In a statement issued after Monday's meeting with him, they said “the United Nations Secretary General extended his offer of good offices, circumstances permitting, to facilitate dialogue and negotiation between the parties”.
“The CARICOM delegation indicated its readiness to work assiduously to bring the parties to the negotiating table,” it added, noting that the visiting leaders subsequently engaged with the various Permanent Representatives of Canada, Russia, the European Union and the African Union, as well as President Maduro and Mexico’s Foreign Minister, with a view to reduce tensions and build a platform for dialogue.
“Further engagements will take place in the next few days as the situation remains fluid,” the statement added.
The regional delegation, led by CARICOM Chairman Dr Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, also included Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada’s Foreign Minister Peter David, and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
In their meeting with Guterres, the CARICOM leaders expressed their “grave concern over the untenable situation in Venezuela”.
“The delegation strongly urged that further deterioration would seriously aggravate the plight of Venezuelans. The Caribbean Community is steadfast that the region must remain a zone of peace,” the statement said.
“The CARICOM delegation emphasized its commitment to the tenets of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which calls on states to refrain from the threat or the use of force. CARICOM has been consistent in the critical importance it accords to the key principles of non-interference and non-intervention.”
CARICOM reaffirmed the view that there is an urgent need for meaningful dialogue leading to a peaceful internal solution for the Venezuelan people. “The Caribbean Community is resolute in its belief that it is never too late for dialogue since the consequences of no dialogue will be dire,” the statement said.