Editorial

Venezuela: Let Good Sense Prevail

Image of President Maduro after being sworn-in for a second term on Thursday.

THE chickens are coming home to roost in Venezuela. The US has embarked on a clear mission of regime change in Caracas and President Donald Trump insists that as far as military intervention is concerned, nothing is off the table.

As expected, the US position is backed by its traditional allies (Canada, the European Union and some Latin American nations), while Russia, China, Iran and Cuba have lined-up behind Venezuela. And the Venezuelan military has pledged allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro. President Trump has recognized a self-declared opposition rival as president and Maduro has broken ties with the US — and ordered US diplomats to leave Caracas by this weekend.

Once more, as with the Cuban missile crisis five decades ago and the Grenada invasion 35 years ago, the Caribbean has again become a theatre of global geopolitical conflict. This time, however, the consequences could be a thousand times worse.

War must be avoided in this region at all costs, as the cost of conflict in this nuclear age is simply unimaginable — and therefor unaffordable. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guitterez has called on all sides to avoid violence and seek a peaceful solution. There’s no sign any side is listening. But watch and listen the Caribbean just must.

Every CARICOM member-state will decide on its policy position in what’s now essentially a ‘US vs Venezuela’ conflict. But Saint Lucia has spoken clearly and publicly.

Even before the UN Secretary General’s appeal, Saint Lucia had already adopted the sensible position of opting to continue dialogue with Venezuela, even though the two sides still disagree on many issues.

Citing primarily national security considerations, Saint Lucia is naturally worried about the security consequences associated with the flights of plight by millions of Venezuelans seeking greener economic pastures in neighbouring countries they consider to be comparative Lands of Milk and Honey.

However, recent news reports here have included court cases involving Venezuelans smuggling arms and drugs, allegations of forced cross-border prostitution involving Venezuelan women — and Saint Lucians and Venezuelans jointly convicted for money laundering.

The long history of fraternal ties between Saint Lucia and Venezuela – stretching two centuries — must not be erased.

Citing precisely those ties, the island’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sarah Flood-Beaubrun and Saint Lucia’s Ambassador to the OAS Anton Edmunds have both indicated that while Saint Lucia will side with those calling on Venezuela to heed the words of the world, it will not sever possibilities of continuing dialogue by braking diplomatic ties with Caracas.

Thus far, Saint Lucia has essentially observed the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. National Security Minister Hermangild Francis visited Caracas last year to register Saint Lucia’s concerns. Likewise, top Venezuela delegations have also visited Castries to discuss bilateral issues.

Pressure will continue to be brought to bear on CARICOM member-states to take a side in this sorry dispute, which has already started showing dimensions of a possible Third World War. But Saint Lucia must continue to resist all attempts to get it to commit to participate in any form (including verbal support) of external intervention in Venezuela.

No government in history has survived when the vast majority of its people have made-up their minds that it’s time has come to go. If so’s the case in Venezuela, let it be shown by the Venezuelan people – and without physical foreign intervention of any kind in support of either side.

Let the Caribbean remain the Zone of Peace it can continue to be, without wars – or rumours of wars – in these small nations where life is always worth living. The Caribbean is a small area. It would not survive, as the Middle East has done, a proxy war between the global powers. We have no interests is such muscle flexing. We absolutely support the People of Venezuela whilst remaining neutral about its government(s).

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