Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is cautioning CARICOM member states to maintain solidarity and avoid becoming divided, particularly in relation to ongoing events in Venezuela.

In a three-page letter to CARICOM leaders and heads of state, Prime Minister Gonsalves complained that the 15-member grouping was allowing “a small group of powerful nations” within the Organization of American States (OAS) to dilute CARICOM’s collective strength by dividing the regional states in a bid to achieve regime change in Venezuela.

“A handful of powerful countries with an agenda of naked self interest has strategically invited select CARICOM countries to their meetings and ignored the others. In the result, they have succeeded in disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries whose only strength lies in our solidarity. This worrying development has been particularly manifest in matters relating to Venezuela,” Dr. Gonsalves wrote in the letter dated May 10, 2017.

“There is clearly a calculated strategy in place by a group of nations to achieve regime change in Venezuela by using the OAS as a weapon of destruction,” he added.

The Prime Minister stated that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro was a “chosen and willing tool” who as a hemispheric public servant, far exceeds the authority reposed on him by governments by publicly attacking the Head of Government of Venezuela.

He pointed out that while CARICOM countries may have concerns about the political, economic and social conditions in Venezuela, “we are all sufficiently seasoned political leaders to know that toppling a government will not end those conditions, particularly when there is no viable, electable single alternative to replace it”.

He said there was a role for CARICOM in promoting dialogue to help resolve the conflict in Venezuela. However, he warned fellow regional leaders against allowing themselves “to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends”.

“The countries that lure our nations into supporting their agenda are the ones that are neglectful of our situation and who worsen them by their actions on matters such as the withdrawal of correspondent banking and branding our countries as money launderers, and drugs and firearms traffickers. When they have accomplished their objectives, by breaking our solidarity through having some of us side with them, we will all be relegated to the margins of their concerns-only weaker than we were before,” he cautioned.

Representatives from 18 OAS member states have approved a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for May 31 in Washington to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.

At the time of writing the letter the meeting was being considered for May 22, not enough time according to Prime Minister Gonsalves for thoughtful attention to “a serious matter”. He had appealed to his CARICOM colleagues to direct their OAS representatives to insist that the meeting be delayed to provide sufficient time for a thorough review of its outcome statement, possibly until the eve of the OAS General Assembly in June.

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