Antigua and Barbuda has taken a stand with seven of its Caribbean neighbours who are protesting the decision of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) to appoint Gustavo Tarre as the Venezuelan representative to the hemispheric institution.
On April 10th, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro accepted Tarre’s credentials as Permanent Representative for the National Assembly of Venezuela, promising to work to advance democracy, peace and justice in Venezuela.
In a joint letter dated April 22nd to the Chair of the Permanent Council, Carlos Trujillo, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Suriname argued that the National Assembly of Venezuela was “not a government” under Article 80 of the OAS Charter.
Article 80 of the Charter states, “The Permanent Council of the Organization is composed of one representative of each Member State, especially appointed by the respective Government, with the rank of ambassador. Each Government may accredit an acting representative, as well as such alternates and advisers as it considers necessary.”
The statement added that the resolution to accept Tarre and the subsequent actions “are not in conformity with international law and the normative framework of the OAS.”
They added further that “the Permanent Mission…express their deep concern with this undermining of the institutional integrity and legitimacy of the OAS, and…calls for this entire matter…to be submitted by the Permanent Council to a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs for its review and decision.”
Despite the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) holding 14 votes at the OAS, member states could not overcome their division on the issue of Venezuela as St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti and the Bahamas voted in favour of accepting Tarre as the National Assembly’s designated permanent representative, pending new elections resulting in the appointment of a democratically-elected government.
However, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname sided with the South American country in voting against the resolution, while Barbados, Guyana, St. Kitts-Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago abstained, while Belize was the only CARICOM country absent.
Currently, the OAS Permanent Council is chaired the United States, which is at the forefront of efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro – who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term earlier this year.
Washington has supported Juan Guaido, the Opposition Leader and Leader of the National Assembly, who had already declared himself the interim president.
Earlier this year, US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the removal of President Maduro and the accession of Guaido to the Presidency.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas previously called the division within CARICOM on the issue
“regrettable” while Foreign Affairs Minister E.P. Chet Greene reiterated that
despite the challenges facing Venezuela, Antigua and
Barbuda maintains its “position… of non intervention, respect for the rule of law and sovereignty”.