Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will be part of a Caricom team at an international meeting on the situation in Venezuela scheduled for Montevideo, Uruguay on Thursday. He will be joined by Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados and Caricom Chairman Dr Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis.
Plans for the meeting were confirmed in a statement issued late yesterday following a special emergency meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government held via video conference. It was decided that the three Prime Ministers who led talks in New York with the United Nations should represent the region in Uruguay.
The governments of Mexico and Uruguay have called for the conference with representatives from the main countries and international organisations that hold a neutral position towards Venezuela. The purpose is to lay the foundation for establishing a new mechanism for dialogue that, with the inclusion of all Venezuelan forces, will contribute to restoring stability and peace in that country.
However, even as plans were being finalised for the Montevideo meeting yesterday, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said turned down offers from the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay to negotiate with Nicolas Maduro.
In a letter to both presidents, Guaido urged them to back Venezuela’s struggle, saying to remain neutral aligns them with Maduro.
“At this historical moment that our country is going through, to be neutral is to be on the side of the regime that has condemned hundreds of thousands of human beings to misery, hunger and exile — including death,” he said.
Guaido declared himself interim president last week and has vowed to topple Maduro’s administration, which he labeled a “dictatorship.” His claim to the presidency is backed by the United States and other westernnations.
The opposition’s priority is to end Maduro’s grip on power and usher in a transition by holding democratic elections, Guaido said in the letter to Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The United States has also rejected offers from Mexico, Uruguay and the Vatican to mediate a dialogue.
A defiant Maduro remains dug in, blaming the White House for openly backing what he calls a coup to remove him from power and exploit his country’s vast oil wealth. He retains support from powerful allies, including Russia and China, but is growing increasingly isolated as more nations back Guaido.
Yesterday he continued a show of strength that has seen him crisscross Venezuela to oversee military exercises as he vows to defend his socialist government no matter the cost.
“We’re in a historic battle,” Maduro told several hundred troops standing in formation around armored vehicles. “We’re facing the greatest political, diplomatic and economic aggression that Venezuela has confronted in 200 years.”
The military’s top leadership is backing Maduro, though analysts warn that rank-and-file troops frustrated by their country’s economic and humanitarian crisis may not share that unwavering loyalty.