01:03 GMT15 April 2021
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    MONTEVIDEO (Sputnik) - The Caribbean nations are concerned about the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela through increasing use of force, and warn that a possible armed conflict would generate hardship and increase the flow of people to the Caribbean countries, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Christopher Rowley told Sputnik.

    "Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries are very concerned about the worsening of the situation in Venezuela through the use a force as a corrective measure… We understand that position is also agreed to by others who are talking," Rowley said.

    READ MORE: US to Push Anti-Maduro Resolution Amid Fears of Venezuela Intervention — Report

    The prime minister noted that the Venezuelan conflict directly affected both his country and all the Caribbean states because of the possible influx of the Venezuelan refugees.

    "It’s very serious for us because we are very small country, population 1.3 million… Even before these difficulties in the last few days we have within our borders few tens of thousands Venezuelans, who have come to us. we are only seven miles away, but we historically have tremendous contact. There's is a flow of people back and forth. So when the difficulty arises in Venezuela, it is natural that so many Venezuelans would seek to come for relief in Trinidad and Tobago," Rowley said.

    He pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago had limited capacity to cope with the potential influx of refugees from the neighboring state.

    "But we have very limited capacity to deal with a flood of people fleeing a conflict. Right now people come because of economic conditions and hardships being faced… But [the possible] armed conflict would generate far more hardship and far more people attempting to leave. So we in turn are concerned that if we use a solution that generates a larger flow of people out of Venezuela, we will find ourselves unable to cope with Venezuelans within our border. And the rest of the CARICOM [Caribbean Community] will have the same problem in that. These are tourism economies, so an armed conflict in or nearby does not help the economies of these islands. So we are concerned that we find a solution that does not involve armed conflict," the prime minister noted.

    Rowley made his remarks following the meetings on crisis-torn Venezuela in Montevideo, Uruguay, held earlier this week, including the meeting of the CARICOM nations with Mexico and Uruguay, and the inaugural meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela.

    "We reaffirmed the position that we took… in the group CARICOM, Uruguay and Mexico — the four-point Montevideo mechanism. It was a subject to discussions with Uruguay and the EU today. So, it’s our position," he added.

    The Montevideo mechanism, proposed by Mexico, Uruguay and the CARICOM envisages four stages: the immediate launch of a dialogue on the situation in Venezuela, the negotiation process, drafting an agreement and its implementation.

    "As long as people are talking, we are doing the right thing… The main thing that came out of it [talks] is that the solution has to be a Venezuelan solution, by the Venezuelan people, for the Venezuelan people, And that there is no support for the external use of force," he explained.

    New Elections in Venezuela

    A decision on a new vote in Venezuela is only up to the Venezuelans and cannot be imposed by other states, Keith Christopher Rowley said.

    "If the Venezuelan people come to that condition [to hold elections], having accepted the responsibility for their country, [to have] new elections, if that's the agreement, then so be it, but that is not to be imposed by us, the Venezuelan people will have to," Rowley said.

    EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said the ICG aimed to assist in facilitating the conditions to hold elections in the country in line with its constitution, and will send a technical mission to Venezuela to implement its goals.

    "Of course, President [Nicolas] Maduro has said he is coming to the table without preconditions and we presume that the other people, whoever is opposed to his administration, they… will have to understand that the conditions, that will come out of this, will only be sustainable and last if there is common purpose and common agreement," Rowley concluded.

    Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told Sputnik on Thursday that members of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela, who gathered in Uruguay for their first meeting, agreed on the need for a new presidential election conducted via a credible electoral process.

    CARICOM Asks UN Chief to Stress Need for 'Good Offices' on Venezuela

    The Caribbean Community's (CARICOM) countries addressed to the UN secretary-general pointing out the need for providing "good offices" amid the Venezuelan conflict, Tobago Keith Christopher Rowley stressed.

    "The first thing we did, when we realized that it [the Venezuelan conflict] could have gotten out of hand… we went to the United Nations… We sought the audience with the [UN] secretary-general to raise with him the need to provide his good offices, encourage the Venezuelans, because he would only do that if the Venezuelans themselves agree to have good offices be made available to them so that they can work out their differences, their political differences… And we said secretary general that we are doing this understanding that the United Nations charter expressly forbidden the intervention of external parties into the affairs of sovereign states," Rowley said.

    Rowley made the remarks following the meetings on Venezuela in Montevideo, Uruguay, held earlier this week, including the meeting of the CARICOM nations with Mexico and Uruguay, and the inaugural meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela (ICG). Moreover, the CARICOM nations have also held meetings with the European Union.

    "CARICOM will keep talking with all parties at different levels… We’ll have meetings of the foreign ministers, later on we’ll have meetings of the secretary-general of CARICOM at different levels with different entities. So we are about trying to assist the Venezuelans by creating a mechanism by which they can solve the problem," the prime minister said.

    On Sunday, President Donald Trump confirmed in an interview with the CBS broadcaster that US military intervention in Venezuela was "an option."

    On January 23, Juan Guaido, the head of the Venezuelan opposition-led National Assembly, proclaimed himself the country’s interim president and was immediately recognized by the United States, Canada and other US allies. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, cut off diplomatic ties with Washington and accused the United States of orchestrating a coup.


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