Cumbre de Caricom: mandatarios del Caribe impulsan mercado único y el presidente del bloque rechaza la injerencia en Venezuela

Países de Caricom promueven el diálogo y condenan la violencia en Venezuela

El primer ministro de Granada y presidente de turno de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom), Keith Mitchell, señaló este martes la necesidad de promover una postura común sobre Venezuela y reafirmó que el diálogo es la solución para la situación en el país sudamericano.

“Hay que unirse para condenar la violencia, venga de donde venga y no debemos, por ello, retrotraernos de usar nuestros vínculos estrechos para empujar a todas las partes a adoptar la opción del diálogo, que redundará en beneficio de los venezolanos”, añadió Mitchell, quien preside su última reunión del Caricom.

En este sentido, el mandatario reiteró que deben “ser conscientes de los principios de no injerencia, el apoyo al Estado de Derecho y la constitucionalidad”.

Igualmente, naciones como San Vicente y las Granadinas, Antigua y Barbuda y Dominica han hecho un llamado a la comunidad caribeña a no interferir en los asuntos internos del país.

Este lunes antes del inicio de la cumbre, el secretario general de Caricom, Irwin La Rocque, había señalado que este tema no iba a estar en la agenda, pero reconoció la posibilidad de que los líderes ofrecieran algún tipo de comunicado sobre la situación, al término de la misma.

Solo dos de los 15 mandatarios de Caricom no estuvieron presentes en la reunión, el primer ministro de Belice, Dean Barrow, y el presidente de Surinam, Desi Bouterse, quienes estuvieron representados por sus ministros de Relaciones Exteriores.

Felicitación del presidente Maduro por 44 años de la Caricom

El Presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro felicitó este martes a los pueblos y gobiernos del Caribe, al cumplirse 44 años de la fundación de la Caricom.

Mediante un comunicado, el Jefe de Estado Venezolano ratificó “los lazos de amistad y cooperación fortalecidos por el Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, y continuados por el Presidente Nicolás Maduro Moros junto a los gobiernos y pueblos del Caribe”.

“En su calidad de miembro observador, el Gobierno de Venezuela, reconoce a la Caricom su encomiable trabajo por la defensa de la paz y la seguridad regional, la democracia y la promoción de la integración; así como el respeto a los principios del derecho internacional, la soberanía, la no injerencia y la igualdad jurídica de los Estados”, señaló el mandatario en el documento.

La firma del Tratado de Chaguaramas, realizada en Trinidad y Tobago el 04 de julio de 1973, representó el nacimiento del organismo multilateral, cuya finalidad es afianzar la unidad e integración regional en el Caribe.


CSME’s struggling status up for discussion at CARICOM summit in Grenada

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government, as they did at last year’s annual summit, intend taking another critical look at what’s known as the CSME – the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

At last year’s summit in Guyana, heads of government ordered the first review of the 15-year-old CSME that continues to come in for criticism from around the region, because it is seen as struggling to make its intended mark.

One of its key objectives is deepening economic integration by advancing beyond a common market towards a single market and economy.

Its aims include making full use of labour within member states of the regional grouping, full exploitation of the other factors of production, and competitive production leading to greater variety and quantity of products and services to trade with other countries.

However the one single CARICOM space envisaged has yet to materialize, and some cynics fear that it never will.

One document entitled ‘Establishment of the CARICOM Single Market Economy Summary Status of Key Elements and Outstanding Action’ that was highlighted a year ago revealed that the majority of the member states are delinquent, as they have, for years, failed to implement a number of agreements they either signed or ratified.

That status report noted that, except for Guyana, the remaining CARICOM member states, including Jamaica, are “still to make amendments to the relevant section of the immigration laws providing for six months definite entry for CARICOM national service providers”.

As the CARICOM heads meet again this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to tackle head on integration related matters, the grouping’s secretary general, Irwin LaRocque is defending a CSME he insists should not be written off.

According to LaRocque, the single market and economy is not receiving the credit it deserves.

He is urging member governments to highlight the gains already made under the CSME, even while acknowledging that there is still a very long way to go.

“Its constant communication to the people of the region in terms of what we’re doing, what we’re achieving, what we’re planning and how we go forward and sometimes I think we take for granted what it is we are doing and we just have to keep on informing our citizens. It’s not just the Secretariat and the secretary general who has to keep on doing this, the member states themselves need to say what’s going on and how they are benefiting from it in terms of functional cooperation in a vast number of areas. Education, health our advocacy in the international community all of these are down to the benefit of member states,” he said.

To summarize, the CSME is an essential element of integration in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

It is intended to benefit the people of the region by providing more and better opportunities for employment, to produce and sell Caribbean goods and services and to attract investment.

It is aimed at creating one large market among the participating CSME member states.

However, the CSME does not appear to be a popular notion in St Kitts and Nevis these days.

One hardly hears about it being mentioned, as domestic issues take priority front and centre stage.

And Basseterre is not alone – that apparent lack of interest is evident in most CARICOM member states today.

Caribbean News

Regional leaders open annual summit in Grenada

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders began their 38th annual summit here on Tuesday night underscoring the importance of closer collaboration in a changing global environment and also emphasised the need for a unified position on the political situation in Venezuela.

Host Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who will chair the three-day summit, told the opening ceremony that the 15-member regional grouping needed to find the resolve to commit to a unified position on the current political challenge in neighbouring Venezuela, where opposition forces are seeking to remove the government of President Nicolas Maduro by staging daily street demonstrations that have so far resulted in the death of more than 50 people.

“We cannot ignore what is going on in a country with which all of our member states have had strong historic ties; and one with which countries such as Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago share maritime borders,” Mitchell told the ceremony, adding “these realities, combined with our international record of standing up for political order, democracy and respect for human rights, ought to inspire us to arrive at a clear stance on this current crisis in Venezuela.

“Of course, in doing so, we must be cognizant of the broad principles of non-interference, the support for the rule of law and order, constitutionality, and the respect for human rights,” he said, noting “we appreciate that there is a duly elected government in place in Venezuela, and that many of the internal struggles are manifestations of a struggle for political power.

“As proud, independent nations, with a shared history of anti-colonial struggle, we approach these issues, rightfully so, with a particular mind-set. Indeed, when certain international advocates whisper aloud about unconstitutional regime change, we must give pause; but pause must not result in paralysis. Our inaction must not be the consequence of our suspicion.”

Mitchell, who is most likely chairing his last CARICOM summit, hinting that he would be moving out of the political arena, said that as a region and as neighbours, CARICOM needs to be concerned about anomalies and excesses; and about extremism from all sides.

“We must stand united to condemn violence – from whichever quarter it comes. We must, therefore, not retreat from using our close ties to nudge all parties to a position of “dialogue” that will be in the best interest of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The Venezuela issue, according to the CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque is not an agenda item for the summit, but he acknowledged that it was possible that the leaders would be issuing some form of statement on the situation at the end of their deliberations.

In his address, Mitchell joined his colleague heads of governments from Guyana, The Bahamas and Haiti in underscoring the importance of the region bloc to the socio-economic development of the Caribbean.

But he said that while the grouping has had much to cheer about in the past “we ourselves, do a lot to undermine the very construct of CARICOM and regional integration when we yield to the urge to go off on solo excursions, even after we reach common positions.

“Every instance of this deepens the cynicism about our ability as CARICOM heads to remain consistent; to stand in solidarity on issues; and to follow through on consensus decisions,” he said noting “we must be acutely aware that our constituents around the region, especially our youth, pay close attention to our collective conduct on issues that matter a great deal to them.

Mitchell said during his six months chairmanship, CARICOM should aim at several key achievements, including a comprehensive quantitative assessment of trade performance under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, services, labour and skills across the region and the strengthening of the “Statistics Division” of the CARICOM Secretariat, to better equip the to carry out the heavy lifting required in respect of evolving demands.

Jamaica Observer

CARICOM must not to turn a blind eye to Venezuela — St Lucia PM

St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on Tuesday said that while Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries must not seek to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, the regional bloc at the same time must not turn a blind eye to the situation in that South American country where opposition voices have been stifled.

Speaking with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) ahead of the 38th CARICOM Summit, Chastanet said he expects the Venezuela situation, where opposition supporters have been taking to the streets demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, to feature at the deliberations here.

“Look I think there’s absolute consensus by CARICOM that there should be non-interference, but it is what is said afterwards. The fact is from a security perspective we are very concerned about the deterioration of things in Venezuela because it has impacted us from a security perspective. “We have seen an increase in the movement of arms, we have seen an increase in money laundering and just basic criminal activity,” Chastanet said, adding “I think we have to take an interest in what’s happening”.

On Monday, CARICOM Secetary General Irwin La Rocque told a news conference that while the Venezuela issue is not on the agenda for the three-day summit being held on the outskirts of the capital, he expects some statement to follow the deliberations of the leaders.

LaRocque said “there are some basic principles that the community has elaborated and this principle still holds.

“All our member states subscribe to the statement issued by the COFCOPR (CARICOM foreign ministers) of non-interference, non-intervention in the internal affairs of the sovereign state of Venezuela.”

He said the policy “holds despite what you may have read about a particular text being considered at the OAS (Organisation of American States), those principles hold.

“I think we have to wait for the outcome of the meeting to see what statements come out of this meeting on Venezuela, if any,” he added.

“We have basic principles that we are united and that continues to inform our approach to dealing with Venezuela and whether or not the matter is discussed we have to wait and see what is the outcome of the meeting,” LaRocque said, adding that Maduro had not been invited to the summit, which will be chaired by Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has in the past written to his CARICOM colleagues urging them not to interfere in the internal affairs of the South American country.

Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica have all publicly added their voice to the call with Port of Spain going as far as calling for the removal of the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro claiming he had shown bias in his deliberations on the issue.

Chastanet told CMC that both the government and the opposition in Venezuela need to “get their stuff resolved because it is having a negative impact on this hemisphere.

“The question is what role can CARICOM play, if any in trying to resolve that matter and I am not sure that CARICOM by itself can resolve the problem that is taking place.

“Well I have to say to you from a St Lucian perspective that I will not support any interference but at the same time we must recognise that some of the things the government has done are wrong.

“So when you arrest the leaders of your opposition, when you have a Congress that’s suspended those are not things which we can remain silent on,” Chastanet said, adding “the level of democracy has to be re-opened and the justification that the opposition is opposing you isn’t sufficient to justify those decisions”.

Jamaica Observer