Antigua responds to former Jamaica PM in handling of Venezuela crisis

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The government of Antigua & Barbuda has written a firm response to former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding who criticized the region’s stance on the escalating crisis in Venezuela.

In a statement, the government said the recent pronouncement by former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, which was published in the Jamaica Gleaner of this date, is “poorly conceived and patently unwise.”

The Jamaica Prime Minister said that insistence on “non-interference in the affairs of Venezuela”, as articulated by the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is “foolishness.”

“The claim by Mr. Golding that Venezuela’s generosity to several Caribbean states controls the decision-making of the Prime Ministers of St. Vincent and Antigua, is poorly conceived and shamelessly undignified in its public pronouncement. The diplomacy practiced by any state is a factor in its relations with its neighbours, but never the only consideration. Venezuela’s generosity is peripheral, and not vital in Antigua and Barbuda’s calculation,” the government here said.

Bruce Golding

“Instead, an abiding and fundamental principle, written into the law of nations, is at work here. Interference in the internal affairs of states is not permitted. Small states cannot allow the erosion of governing law which is intended always to protect the vulnerable from the powerful. The Venezuelans are not asking for the OAS to intervene; therefore, the OAS cannot and ought to not propose to intervene in that nation’s internal politics,” it added.

The statement points out that the Organization of American States (OAS) has been struggling with the issue of Venezuela as the opposition forces in that country mount daily protests with the object of ending President Maduro’s term prematurely. The opposition forces wish to have elections for President immediately called.The OAS Secretary General echoed that chorus, calling the Maduro regime nasty names simultaneously. That is not a role he should be playing, and Golding rightly concludes that he is compromised.

According to the government, the 1948 Charter of the OAS, seventy years old next year, speaks of “non-interference in the internal affairs of member-states,” precisely because the practice by the mightiest was to determine “regime change” at will, in this hemisphere. Those days have long ended; further, it is not lawful to utilize the OAS to force a duly elected President out of office.

The Gaston Browne administration said “the attempt to liken Venezuela’s current internal crisis to the horrors of apartheid in South Africa is far from reasonable. The entire world stood opposed to legalized racism and alienated South Africa in sports, international affairs, and finally with economic boycotts. The situation in Venezuela is largely a domestic quarrel with few implications for the outside world.”

It noted that “If the lawfully-elected regime were to be ousted prematurely, there is every likelihood that the uncertainty would give rise to sufficient instability to generate refugees; the other states in the Caribbean and South America would likely bear the brunt of that human movement. Former Prime Minister Golding has no stake in this outcome.”

Antigua insists that the Inter-American Democratic Charter cannot be used as a whip to bring down a regime that certain countries deem to be unfriendly.

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