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Pressure mounts on Maduro – Times Caribbean
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Pressure mounts on Maduro

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2 factions meet this week on next step for Venezuela

byRenuka Singh5 hours agoSun Feb 03 2019

President Nicolas Maduro greet supporters as they arrive at a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Maduro called the rally to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the late President Hugo Chavez's rise to power. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

President Nicolas Maduro greet supporters as they arrive at a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Maduro called the rally to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the late President Hugo Chavez’s rise to power. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Ariana Cubillos

Po­lit­i­cal pres­sure con­tin­ues to mount on oust­ed Venezue­lan leader Nico­las Maduro as two dis­tinct fac­tions are ex­pect­ed to meet in the com­ing days to de­ter­mine the next step for Venezuela. The po­lit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic col­lapse of the coun­try is oc­cu­py­ing head­lines across the globe, di­vid­ing na­tions and leav­ing the Cari­com coun­tries as the on­ly group main­tain­ing its neu­tral­i­ty.

To­day some 14 Latin Amer­i­can na­tions that sup­port Op­po­si­tion Leader Juan Guai­do are ex­pect­ed to hold an emer­gency meet­ing in Ot­tawa, Cana­da, to plan ways to help him take over gov­er­nance of Venezuela. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Brazil and Colom­bia are sup­posed to at­tend this meet­ing. When Guai­do spoke to sup­port­ers at a ral­ly in Cara­cas, he laid out a plan to have ship­ments of food and med­i­cine im­port­ed from those two coun­tries to deal with the mas­sive short­ages at Venezue­lan mar­kets.

This meet­ing comes just days be­fore Cari­com is set to have its own meet­ing on the same is­sue.

It was pre­vi­ous­ly re­port­ed that Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley, Bar­ba­dos Prime Min­is­ter Mia Mot­t­ley and Prime Min­is­ter of St Kitts and Nevis, chair­man of Cari­com Dr Tim­o­thy Har­ris, are ex­pect­ed to at­tend a meet­ing at Mon­te­v­ideo, Uruguay.

How­ev­er, Guardian Me­dia learned that Cari­com is not part of the In­ter­na­tion­al Con­tact Group on Venezuela and will not be at­tend­ing the high-pro­file Thurs­day talks in Uruguay’s cap­i­tal.

Sources at the Cari­com Sec­re­tari­at told Guardian Me­dia that the Cari­com talks with Mex­i­co take place on Wednes­day and the agen­das are quite dif­fer­ent.

“The meet­ing with the Eu­ro­pean Union is to set an agen­da for elec­tions in Venezuela and the oth­er with Cari­com and Mex­i­co is to ini­ti­ate di­a­logue among Venezue­lans,” the in­sid­er said.

The in­sid­er al­so con­firmed that Nor­way and Switzer­land would al­so be par­ty to the Cari­com talks as they too prac­tice neu­tral­i­ty.

The Eu­ro­pean Union (EU) agreed to the talks and is now ex­pect­ed to co-host the sep­a­rate event, sched­uled for Thurs­day in Uruguay. The Eu­ro­pean Union state­ment does not men­tion Cari­com and Mex­i­co.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, “the Con­tact Group will bring to­geth­er the EU and eight of its Mem­ber States (France, Ger­many, Italy, the Nether­lands, Por­tu­gal, Spain, Swe­den and the Unit­ed King­dom) and coun­tries from Latin Amer­i­ca (Bo­livia, Cos­ta Ri­ca, Ecuador and Uruguay)”.

On Feb­ru­ary 1, Cari­com heads held an in-video meet­ing and it was de­ter­mined then that the same three Prime Min­is­ters who went to the Unit­ed Na­tions meet­ing in New York on Jan­u­ary 28 would head to Uruguay.

The gov­ern­ments of Mex­i­co and Uruguay have called for the con­fer­ence with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the main coun­tries and in­ter­na­tion­al or­gan­i­sa­tions that hold a neu­tral po­si­tion to­wards Venezuela.

On Jan­u­ary 31, the Cari­com lead­ers wrote to the sec­re­tary gen­er­al of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States (OAS) Luis Leonar­do Al­ma­gro call­ing on him to clar­i­fy that his vo­cal pro-Guai­do stance was a per­son­al one and not that of the en­tire OAS. In that let­ter, the heads of Cari­com main­tained their po­si­tion of non-in­ter­fer­ence and said that Al­ma­gro nev­er spoke with them be­fore voic­ing his sup­port for Guai­do.

While the po­lit­i­cal ten­sion has been sim­mer­ing for some time in Venezuela, con­tin­ued protest ac­tion against Maduro caught the worlds at­ten­tion, and with thou­sands flee­ing the col­lapsed econ­o­my, it be­came an in­ter­na­tion­al hu­man­i­tar­i­an cri­sis.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tion­al re­ports on Sat­ur­day, more than 100,000 peo­ple took part in an­ti-gov­ern­ment ral­lies held in over 100 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions.

Last month, the ris­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions un­der the Maduro regime led Guai­do to de­clare him­self leader of the be­lea­guered coun­try.

Guai­do gained the sup­port of the Unit­ed States and most of the Eu­rope Union, while Chi­na and Rus­sia are back­ing Maduro.

Mean­while, to­day Rus­sia’s for­eign min­istry is­sued a state­ment to its own news net­works call­ing on the the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to fo­cus in­stead on help­ing to solve Venezuela’s eco­nom­ic and so­cial prob­lems.

Russ­ian al­so called on coun­tries to re­frain from any “de­struc­tive” in­ter­fer­ence.

Rus­sia may be di­rect­ing that warn­ing to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who to­day dou­bled down on his war-like rhetoric against Maduro. In an in­ter­view with US me­dia yes­ter­day, Trump said that de­ploy­ing the US mil­i­tary to Venezuela is on the ta­ble and would re­main an op­tion.

Trump al­so told US me­dia that Maduro re­quest­ed a meet­ing with him sev­er­al months ago, but he de­clined.

In Eu­rope, Aus­tria’s chan­cel­lor was re­port­ed as say­ing that he spoke with Guai­do and will now join his Eu­ro­pean Union neigh­bours in recog­nis­ing Guai­do as in­ter­im pres­i­dent un­less new pres­i­den­tial elec­tions are called.

T&T well equipped to hold me­di­a­tion talks—pro­to­col ex­pert

In the mean­time, T&T’s of­fer to host me­di­a­tion talks be­tween Maduro and Guai­do still stands.

Pro­to­col ex­pert Lenore Dorset told Guardian Me­dia that the coun­try is well equipped to host such talks.

Dorset did not want to speak too much on the is­sue as she said it was still a mat­ter of con­tention be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion.

“It find it awk­ward for me to give a po­si­tion as we have a func­tion­ing Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs,” Dorset said.

Dorset said that T&T need­ed to main­tain the Cari­com po­si­tion of non-in­ter­fer­ence even if the meet­ings are held here.

“I be­lieve that an in­vi­ta­tion should be ex­tend­ed to all the par­ties in­volved to come, you can­not ask one with­out the oth­er,” she said.

She said there were a num­ber of places that could be used for such a high-pro­file meet­ing but rec­om­mend­ed the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre.

“You then have to get in­ter­preters or they can bring their own in­ter­preters and al­ways have to have se­cu­ri­ty. The Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice would have to get the Spe­cial Branch in­volved,” she said.

The CoP though de­clined to com­ment on such ques­tions.

“Ob­vi­ous­ly I would not re­veal that,” he said yes­ter­day.

—-with re­port­ing by Ur­vashi Ti­warie-Roop­nar­ine

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