The invitation by President of the United States Donald Trump to meet with only four members of Caricom is an insult to the Caribbean and the governments who attended will have to answer to their people.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves expressed this opinion while speaking last Friday on We FM.
He also said the leaders who attended the meeting do not speak for CARICOM, and certainly not for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
President Trump invited to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, last Friday, St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, Dominican Republic’s President Danilo Medina, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise and Bahamas’ Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
The Dominican Republic is not a member of CARICOM.
“Those countries have been in lockstep with the United States more or less at the OAS on Venezuela, but we have a common stance,” Gonsalves said.
In January, Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, declared himself interim president of Venezuela and called on President Nicolás Maduro to hold presidential elections. He is being backed by several countries including the United States.
Gonsalves and some members of CARICOM have refused to recognize Guaidó.
The Vincentian Prime Minister said this decision is steeped in international law as well as recognition of the United Nation’s (UN) charter on non-interference and non-intervention.
He said that CARICOM is looking for peaceful settlement to the issue and he believes that discussions should be held with all sides, not just the entities led by Maduro and Guaidó.
He said that Trump’s decision to not invite Chairman of CARICOM Timothy Harris (Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis), Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who can all speak on behalf of CARICOM on this issue, is an insult.
“You can’t have a president come in and hand pick people and you just traipse off and gone….You can’t do it that way.
“It is an insult to the Caribbean, and for the governments who are part of that mix who have gone, they will have to answer to their people and to the people of the Caribbean why they opted to do that,” Gonsalves commented.
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley and Prime Minister of Antigua Gaston Browne have also said that their Caribbean colleagues who attended the meeting with Trump do not speak on behalf of CARICOM.