This newspaper space has become a bit of a stuck needle on the question of Venezuela and the assertion that, aided and abetted by surrogates and sycophants near and far, the Nicolás Maduro regime has been a dangerous failure. That while Venezuelans are being casually victimised by political criminality, we in T&T would increasingly become a feature of the ensuing collateral damage.
Indeed, such decay found roots long before Chavismo emerged as an alternative to long-standing inequities. For, not unlike our own current condition, the rot runs deep in Venezuela.
Today, in this time of reckoning, the nuances and finely-tuned perspectives offered up by the studied processing of all that has been happening appear to be eluding both official and public, national and international activism on the fire ignited by Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelan National Assembly.
It is, of course, simplistic banality to suggest that T&T posturing on the issue ought to focus decisively and almost exclusively on the number of entry visas in the passports of our nationals and/or on our continued reliance on food imports from and energy exports to the United States. These are side issues meant for the palates of the grossly uninformed on matters of international relations.
It is also dangerously unwise to invoke the so-called “constitutionality” of the unilateral Guaidó declaration of January 22 and ensuing international actions, including support for enforced regime change, in the absence of legal clarity. None of our designated partisan spokespersons on the issue has addressed this properly.
I monitored last weekend’s UN Security Council deliberations on the matter and listened carefully for a reasoned analysis of how Articles 233 and 333 of the Constitution of Venezuela actually apply in this instance. There was little on offer.
By that time, I had already turned to informed, independent sources available online, and none offered, in my view, a strong enough basis in law for the Guaidó pronouncement. I await the analyses of our own experts, especially those who have not found sanctuary in the case for moral authority as a position on its own.
In the absence of credible evaluation of these points, the citing by Caricom member states of sections of the UN and OAS Charters that invoke accepted principles of international law offers an option to those who might otherwise prefer an unreliable interpretation of national statute.
Caricom has referenced Article 2 (4) United Nations Charter, which calls on countries to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”, and Article 21 of the Charter of the OAS which speaks to the inviolability of the territory of a state.
I have also listened to those who have suggested that a path be carved for dialogue and the holding of fresh presidential elections. They make eminent sense, even as this qualifies the concept of “non-interference”.
It is however also important to keep in focus the somehow sidelined issue of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. People do not flee a country by the million on the basis of propaganda. They are guided by human needs—food, healthcare, shelter, security.
The problem is even while the Venezuelan president—and it is my view that he still is president—was declaring economic disaster, Caribbean ideologues were denying such a condition even existed, much less as a function of self-inflicted harm. Then when the situation became starkly undeniable, there was the routinised reference to contrived international actions.
My problem with this is those who parrot such views appear blind to the important distinction between the Government and the people of Venezuela. They have not been helpful in framing the conditions for rational contemplation.
The truth about Venezuela and the solution to the situation, as with so many other things in life, reside somewhere within the spectrum of extreme positions on the matter.
The Caricom intervention, as dismissible as people have been finding it, in fact, offers a way forward which captures both the extreme and that which can be influenced by reason. Those who have occupied immovable positions at multiple coordinates need to have a second look at where they have brought us all.