Ken Chee Hing
FOREIGN and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne said on Monday that both Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom’s preference would be for the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for the United States next month, to be one that is “inclusive rather than exclusionary.”
His comment came as debate rages on whether or not Caricom countries should boycott the event over the non-inclusion of Venezuela and Cuba.
“Caricom is of the position that we must continue to advocate at all levels for the inclusion of the governments of Cuba and Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas in Lost Angeles,” said Browne in a CMC story.
“Trinidad and Tobago has been doing its part in that regard, led by our Prime Minister and we have raised this issue with the US Special Advisor for the Ninth Summit, former Senator Chris Dodd and with a range of other high-level contacts within the US system,” Browne told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“If upon issuance of the invitations to heads of Government of our hemisphere that the governments of Cuba and Venezuela have been excluded, Caricom Heads would then make further pronouncements on the matter.
“Our position is crystal clear that the best decision is to convene a summit which is inclusive rather than exclusionary, so that the family of nations of the Americas can sit at the table to discuss and work together on the key issues that confront all our people,” Browne told CMC.
Caricom leaders are also not in favour of an invitation being extended to Venezuelan Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó instead of President Nicolas Maduro for the June 6-10 summit that Washington said is expected to focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the hemisphere.
Leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), who met over the last weekend to discuss the issue are due to meet again on Monday evening with Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines already indicating that the sub-regional grouping would not support an invitation going to Guaidó while also leaving out President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, told CMC that if Guaidó goes to represent Venezuela, “it would be an act of folly” by the Americans, “and I think it will be unlikely that Caribbean governments would go.”
Caricom leaders have in the past reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Gonsalves said that there is a “discussion which is currently going on whether Cuba is going to be invited or not to the summit, adding “again it would be a huge mistake, if Cuba was invited in 2015 and the one subsequently…even under Donald Trump when he was President of the USA …it will be foolhardy not to do that.
“The question which you have to ask, which CARICOM will resolve is whether or not you going to stay away and protest or go and protest. If you go and protest, you will have to go ad protest more or less with Cuba’s concurrence.
“So those are options which are available. It has not been a clear determination yet,” Gonsalves told CMC.