Small states, as Jamaica has proven over the years, can have an impact well beyond their economic and population size on much more powerful countries, including superpowers. This is even more so when the small states act collectively.
As a bloc, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has had a long and outstanding record of influencing international fora and multilateral issues, with Jamaica often playing a leading role which has established us among the movers and shakers in the halls of the United Nations.
Some notable instances of Caricom achievement include the formation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group; the introduction of the term small-island developing states into the United Nations system; forcing the category of “small developing economies” into the negotiations in the World Trade Organisation; and influencing the Paris climate accord.
The leadership of Caricom must be congratulated and supported fully in its determined effort to play a constructive role in resolving the situation in conflict-torn Venezuela, mindful that the Spanish-speaking country has provided invaluable support to the regional economy, through PetroCaribe, during a most difficult period in the history of the Caribbean.
However, it is noteworthy that there were differences among governments in the region on how individual countries and Caricom as a collective should treat with the political and humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
This crisis situation pitting the Maduro regime against the Opposition is threatening to escalate at any moment, with fears of a United States intervention. In the meantime, it has already had a direct impact on member Trinidad and Tobago, to which thousands of Venezuelans have fled.
Caricom, commendably, has forged a consensus and stuck together on the issue, despite enormous pressure from several very powerful countries. The regional bloc has opted to work with and through the United Nations, notwithstanding the very controversial stance advocated by some in the larger Organization of American States.
In this regard, the chairman of Caricom, accompanied by two other heads of government, met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and participated in the Montevideo Mechanism, with hopes of achieving peace.
At the recently concluded heads of government meeting in St Kitts/Nevis, the Community insisted that the solution must come from among the Venezuelan people and not through external imposition.
Caricom also made it clear that it abides by the internationally recognised and accepted principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.
In continuation of its strategy of respecting the right of self-determination and opposing external intervention in Venezuela, Caricom leaders will meet with the United States of America, hopefully to head off a US invasion of Venezuela.
We commend and endorse this action by Caricom to chart a course to a peaceful resolution of the tense situation in Venezuela.