OAS member states address the Venezuela crisis
DPI, GUYANA, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
A resolution to the issues in Venezuela is a pressing concern for the Organisation of American States (OAS) and Guyana in particular.
At the eight Summit of the Americas which was held in Lima, Peru, the Venezuelan situation was a high priority alongside the OAS member states commitment to fight against corruption.
In an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the OAS and Ambassador to the United States, Dr Riyad Insanally, noted that Guyana has been quite active in the discussions relating to Venezuela.
“We’re a neighbouring state. We obviously have security and health concerns on the border and we look at Venezuela as a sister republic, a longstanding neighbour, notwithstanding our differences, our well-known differences,” Ambassador Insanally said.
Venezuela, Guyana’s neighbour to the west, is facing its worst economic crisis. Hyperinflation and food shortages are forcing Venezuelans to flee the country. An April 14 New York Time’s report noted that some 500,000 Venezuelans have fled to Columbia alone.
Since the start of the year, some 18 Venezuelans were brought before the courts for illegal entry here in Guyana. In one instance, a Venezuelan national told the magistrate they were fleeing the economic crisis there.
In March, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) issued new guidance for governments to address the outflow of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries. The UNHCR noted that since 2014 there has been a 2,000 percent increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking asylum nationwide.
Compounding the Venezuelans’ problems are recent actions by the leader of Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro. President Maduro has since instituted a Constituent Assembly in the country and has imprisoned members of the opposition. Most countries in the Latin American region have rejected the Constituent Assembly.
A ‘fraught process’
At the OAS level reaching consensus on Venezuela has been “a fraught process” Ambassador Insanally noted.
“The Venezuelan government has its own position; it’s somewhat at odds with that of a majority of OAS member states so much so that there is a bit of an impasse at the OAS,” the Ambassador noted.
At this year’s Summit of the Americas that division was clearly visible. Venezuela, which is a member of the OAS, was uninvited to the Summit by Peru. President Maduro had insisted he would be in attendance nonetheless but was a no-show.
Other OAS members have adopted a much harder stance against Venezuela. Panama has listed President Maduro and his government as potential money launderers and Columbia is refusing to accept the results of an election that is due in May in the country.
Guyana has taken a principled position on the discussions surrounding Venezuela. “Our position has been one of adhering to certain basic principles: respect for Venezuela’s sovereignty, maintaining the principles of non-intervention, calling for inclusive dialogue and trying to find a way to help OAS member states reach consensus,” Ambassador Insanally explained.
Ambassador Insanally noted that Guyana is simply trying to ensure the dialogue remains civil and respectful as the region seeks to come to a resolution.
“We want to help in the best possible way. That is a process, it’s a complicated process, and it’s not just us there are a lot of moving parts and- it’s just let’s say very political- and at the moment we can only adhere to our principled position,” Ambassador Insanally said.
Honest broker services
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, pointed out that the OAS will be a difficult area for addressing Venezuela and posits that it is more likely subsets within the OAS that can facilitate a resolution.
“You’ll probably have to rely more upon subsets of the OAS; a few friendly counties to continue talking, providing good offices or honest broker services facilitating dialogue, emphasising to all sides in Venezuela the expectations of the rest of the region rather than anything else,” Minister Greenidge noted.
Minister Greenidge noted what is clear to the rest of the region is that there needs to be a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and its opposition in the interest of the Venezuelan people.
By: Tiffny Rhodius