The nations of the Caribbean have fallen into disarray over the question of Venezuela. During the last two decades, Hugo Chavez and later Maduro tried to buy friends and influence in the region by using oil and cash, and the poor nations of the Caribbean were an excellent target for this kind of diplomacy,
The mechanism by which the Venezuelans did this was the Petrocaribe program, whereby Venezuela enabled impoverished and indebted Caribbean nations to buy oil from the country with extremely favorable loans. Longtime readers may recall that in the early part of last decade, the Caribbean was (and still is) going through a major debt crisis.
However, as US pressure on Venezuela has intensified and PDVSA began to collapse due to mismanagement, the Petrocaribe program is coming to an end. Likewise, the US has been making a diplomatic foray into the Caribbean at the same time this has been going on.
This has resulted in what was one a reliable bloc of allies for Maduro is now divided and unable to come with a coherent response:
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations’ position on the situation in Venezuela became clearer over the past weekend—and it’s anything but unified. Allegiances didn’t necessarily align, however, with those expressed in the Organization of American States (OAS) resolution on January 10 that sought to declare the second term of Nicolás Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.
On the night of January 24, 12 out of the 15 CARICOM member states signed on to a collective statement reaffirming the CARICOM guiding principle of “non-intervention and non-interference” in the affairs of sovereign nations. The signatories include Jamaica and St. Lucia, who reversed the positions they had taken in favour of the OAS resolution on January 10.
Guyana, which shares a disputed border with Venezuela, had issued its own statement earlier on January 24, taking a less categorical stance, but supporting “calls made at both the regional and international levels for immediate dialogue involving all political and social actors, with a view to the preservation of the democratic process and a return to normalcy.”
Some Caribbean leaders have directly condemned the United States’ support of Guaidó. Talking to the Miami Herald, Gaston Brown, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, called it “a brazen regime change” and “an affront to democracy within the hemisphere.” St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ prime minister Ralph Gonsalves accused the US of “carrying out a coup d’état.”
In Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Keith Rowley and other politicians bristled at a statement released by the US ambassador criticising the country for “recognising the undemocratic and illegitimate government of Nicolás Maduro.”