The Montevideo Mechanism for Venezuelan peace.
That's the name of the plan - involving dialogue and negotiation - which Caricom and other participants at yesterday's Uruguay conference on the Venezuelan crisis have proposed to bring president Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly head Juan Guaido closer. In the event the two foes decide to communicate, the meeting also established a team to deal with this and Caricom representatives will be on it.
And after yesterday's meeting, Caricom's continuing to work on the issue, meeting with other parties in Uruguay today. This includes the European/Latin contact group which meets this afternoon to discuss creating conditions for new Venezuelan elections.
T&T Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was part of Caricom's delegation which participated in yesterday's conference which devised the Montevideo Mechanism, so named after the Uruguayan capital.
The conference was called by Uruguay and Mexico, with about 10 other states and bodies which remain neutral on the Venezuelan crisis. This resulted from the stand-off between Maduro and Guaido after the latter declared himself interim president following Venezuelan polls he deemed invalid.
Rowley, plus Caricom chairman Dr Timothy Harris, Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Roque and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley arrived in Uruguay yesterday for the meeting. A statement from the PM's office said the conference formalised its plan to address the "complex situation" in Venezuela, through an initiative called the Montevideo Mechanism. Participants said the initiative is being proposed to guarantee peaceful and democratic solution that prevents escalation of violence.
Caricom, in a post-conference statement (similar to the OPM's), said the governments of Mexico, Uruguay and Caricom, in response to the call by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, agreed that the most appropriate way to address the complex situation in Venezuela is "through dialogue for a negotiation, from a position of respect for international law and human rights."
"The historical stance of our countries is and will always be to privilege diplomacy over other alternatives, as it is the only way to achieve sustainable, legitimate and effective peace and stability," the statement added.
"Therefore, we propose the Montevideo Mechanism, based on our legitimate interest and willingness to assist the Venezuelan people and the actors involved to find a solution to their differences. This initiative is offered to the Venezuelan actors as a peaceful and democratic alternative that privileges dialogue and peace, with the aim to create all necessary conditions for an inclusive, comprehensive and lasting solution."
The Mechanism was described as "evidence of an active, proactive and conciliatory diplomacy to bring the disputing parties closer together, avoid conflict and violence."
It's guided by the principles of non-intervention, legal equality of the states, peaceful solution of the controversies, respect for human rights and self-determination.
The proposed mechanism involves a four-phased process which will develop during "reasonable" period of time:
• Dialogue Phase: Creating conditions for direct contacts among the actors involved, in an environment of security.
• Negotiation Phase: Strategic presentation of the results of the previous phase to the counterparts, seeking to find common ground and areas of opportunity to allow the relaxation of positions and identify potential agreements.
• Commitments Phase: Construction and subscription of agreements based on the results of the negotiation phase, with the characteristics and time-frame, previously agreed upon.
• Implementation Phase: Materialisation of the commitments assumed in the previous phase, with the international accompaniment.
In the event Maduro and Guaido decide to communicate, the conference proposed a team to advance the Mechanism. Its members are Rebeca Grynspan (former vice-president of Costa Rica and current Ibero-American Secretary General), Enrique Iglesias and Bernardo Sepúlveda (ex-Foreign Ministers of Uruguay and Mexico) and Sir David Simmons, former Chief Justice of Barbados, as a high-ranking representative of Caricom.
Team members were described as personalities of "recognised international experience and moral quality."
Conference participants said the complexity of the circumstances shouldn't be reason to dismiss the diplomatic channels for dispute settlement. They reiterated concern about the serious humanitarian situation in Venezuela, exhorting all parties to guarantee the validity of the human rights and freedoms established in the UN's Charter.
Yesterday's Uruguay effort occurred against a backdrop of support for the conference by Maduro but rejection by Guaido, who has said he won't participate in “talks and negotiations whose purpose is to keep human rights violators in power" through deception. Guaido's maintained that if a party is neutral "in situations of injustice, you're on the side of the oppressor.” He has invited Mexican and Uruguay leaders to “join the right side.”
Maduro and Guaido's latest contention this week involves Maduro's blocking of humanitarian aid to Venezuela.
Pope Francis yesterday acknowledged Maduro's request to help relaunch talks to end the political crisis, but the Pope ruled out any involvement unless Guaido requested it - in keeping with basic diplomatic requirement that two sides to any conflict must jointly request external help in negotiations.
US President Donald Trump touched on the Venezuela issue during Tuesday's state of the union address. He noted US recognition of Guaido as interim president, condemning "the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair."
A Venezuelan diplomat appointed by Guaido was invited to attend Trump's address.
Caricom meets EU/Latin group today
Apart from the Montevideo Mechanism, Caricom's delegation is scheduled to have further meetings today on the Venezuelan issue, one of which is with the European Union/Latin Contact group at 4 pm.
The Contact group aims at contributing to create conditions "for a political and peaceful process to emerge, enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future, through free, transparent, credible elections."
The meeting will include ministers from Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay, plus counterparts from Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
It's reported that 21 EU states recognise Juan Guaido as interim president and the Contact group's meeting will aim to add pressure on embattled President Nicolas Maduro. Spain is the main force behind the group.
The Contact group's goal isn't to open a formal mediation process or dialogue, but "provide a political dynamic that the group can then accompany and consolidate" members say. Members have set a 90-day target to seek to build trust and create the conditions necessary Venezuelan elections.
Foreign ministers of Mexico and Uruguay - whose states remain neutral on the Venezuelan issue - are participating in today's Contact meeting. The UN also endorses this meeting.