THE Venezuelan crisis is not a geo-political game of chess, says St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris.
Addressing the 40th Meeting of the Conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community held from July 3-5 in Saint Lucia, Prime Minister Harris said the region was still grappling with the Venezuelan situation which was having a direct effect on CARICOM member states.
“Venezuela is our neighbour, and our Member States are being affected by the crisis. For us, this is not a geo-political game of chess,” he said. “It is a situation creating hardships for millions of people right on our doorstep, fostering instability in our already fragile economies and exacerbating criminal activity. We must make clear that CARICOM plays a role of honest broker. All stakes are high. The undermining of the Caribbean as a zone of peace; disruption of tourism and trade; uncontrolled migration with risks to health, and socio-economic problems in member states, compounded by illegal trade in arms, cannot be whisked away.”
Prime Minister Harris, the outgoing regional chairman, said for CARICOM, non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and the right of people to self-determination were core principles, which should not be violated.
“These are what we have to cling to in a world where international law and multilateralism are being undermined and small states are being increasingly marginalised,” he said. “And despite whatever apparent differences appear in the ranks of CARICOM, I can assert that we all subscribe to these principles.”
Prime Minister Harris said the CARICOM had consistently argued that the cardinal principles to undergird a resolution of the political crisis in Venezuela included non- interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, inviolability of the Sovereign State, respect for democracy, rule of law and the Constitution of Venezuela, peace and resolution of conflict.
Prime Minister Harris commended the Norwegian government’s efforts to bring the two sides together in an attempt to end the impasse and allow the country to return to stability.
On Haiti, he said the deteriorating situation in that CARICOM member state was of great concern.
“The continuing violence causing loss of life and property must cease, and dialogue must begin to arrive at a solution to this cycle of instability,” said Prime Minister Harris. “The Haitian people deserve to go about their daily lives in a calm and peaceful environment. I reiterate the Community’s call for all parties to act responsibly and in the interest of the country. We stand ready to offer the good offices of the Community to bring a resolution to this crisis.”