When news first broke regarding the joint CARICOM – UN meeting on the Venezuelan crisis, I was initially perplexed about what they were going have on the agenda. With no prior evidence that either side of the conflict were willing to mediate, it almost appeared that the CARICOM delegation was simply distributing brochures of different resorts and venues that could host the talks if they were to ever occur. The immediate response by Nicolas Maduro, and his equally sudden interest to engage in dialogue with Juan Guaido now gives me reason to believe that the CARICOM delegation traveled to the UN having previously brokered an arrangement with him, and in all likelihood, on his behalf. After having failed through more aggressive tactics in the recent weeks, it appears that Mr. Maduro now views diplomacy as the means by which he can retain power and control of his country.
Following the meeting with the UN Council, Dr. Rowley stated that he believes this situation can be resolved without direct international intervention, and I wondered, what on earth is he talking about. There has been greater intervention by foreign governments in the past week than there has been in the past two years. Only yesterday the US imposed new sanctions on the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. and any foreign interests they may currently be involved with. This comes following the mandate set by the European Union for Maduro to announce fresh elections in Venezuela by the end of this week, or their member countries will no longer recognize him as the legitimate President. But neither of these is as damaging as the possibility of the Bank of England withholding £1 billion in gold reserves from Nicolas Maduro on the advice of the UK government, after Juan Guaido wrote a letter asking for their intervention. As the Bank of England has previously declined to repatriate these reserves to Mr. Maduro since his first request began last year, it is quite possible that they will continue to do so now that they have acquired their government’s support.
Prior to the meeting with CARICOM, the UN released a statement on the need for solidarity with the Venezuelan refugees, and while this wasn’t directed at our government so much as it was meant for the entire region, I can’t help but think the UN went into the meeting fully cognizant of our past treatment of those persons. While it would have therefore been germane to include the migrant situation in the discussions, there has been no mention of the topic from anyone in the CARICOM delegation. Now it is entirely possible that any discussions relating to the refugees were left out of the report presented by the delegation, in the same manner they failed to mention the discussions they had with Nicolas Maduro. But as a contingent intent on convincing the UN that they are completely neutral in the conflict, then a proper demonstration of that position could have been to present the region as a safe-space for the Venezuelan people as much as it is for their politicians.
With the intervention of the global community in the situation currently reassigning power from Maduro to Guaido, there is a greater possibility now that talks between the two leaders can resolve this situation peacefully. Given our geographical proximity to the crisis, it therefore makes sense for us to be considered as neutral meeting ground. HOWEVER, given the position of the government on the Maduro administration in the not too distant past, coupled with the financial benefits that this country has to gain if the current regime is allowed to hold on to power, means that we should not be considered completely impartial in this conflict. Moreover, based on the fact that there is almost a sense that Maduro is either orchestrating or at the very least influencing these discussions should be cause for concern. The fact that Maduro now views these talks as his only avenue to salvaging his political career is an indication that at this point he has the most to gain. It is therefore crucial that the mediators and venue for any discussions be completely neutral lest he is afforded an unfair opportunity to continue oppressing the people of Venezuela.
Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Caribbean American Weekly.
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