ALERT AND CALL TO ACTION:
September 15, 2020
Our Caribbean/Latin American region is now faced with a grave and imminent threat and we all need to do what we can to stave off certain disaster. There are increasing indications, including reports in US and international media, that the administration, led by President Donald Trump, is preparing to launch a military attack on Venezuela to overthrow the duly elected government of President Nicholas Maduro as part of an ‘October Surprise’: a strategy used by incumbent US governments seeking some outstanding achievement in October of an election year to boost chances of re-election in November.
We are deeply troubled that President Trump, described as “amoral” and “racist” by members of his own family seems bent on deploying his country’s military might in our region with all its potential for bloodshed on a horrendous scale, including the loss of American lives, for this abject purpose.
Tell-tale signs of the madness that is looming are reflected on the diplomatic side by the recent visit of war monger, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Jamaica to hold talks with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, as well as a planned visit to Guyana in September 17-18. Observers are asking why the US government would give such high priority to Guyana that it would take the unprecedented step of sending its Secretary of State to congratulate the newly elected government. Anxieties are increased by the fact that Guyana has a long porous border with Venezuela and that it houses a longstanding US military base which observers fear may be reactivated.
The US military threat has been manifest for several months. For example, military assets placed in the Caribbean sea were detailed in the Miami Herald as early as April 4, 2020, by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. These included Navy destroyers, Coast Guard cutters, Navy littoral combat ships, helicopters, Navy P-8 patrol aircraft, along with Air Force E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS to carry out airborne surveillance, control, and communications.
Despite the ruin of its economy by vicious international sanctions enforced by the US and its allies, Venezuela is no pushover due to the strength of its national military, its massive armed civilian base, and support from powerful international allies, such as Russia and China. Any large scale military action is therefore certain to have devastating ramifications for the Caribbean/Latin American region as well as wider international consequences that one dreads to contemplate.
The consequences will be much more far reaching than the economic chaos and demographic displacement caused by US imposed sanctions. Already small island states of the Caribbean have received more than 98,500 migrants according to a 2018 report from the United Nations. The report notes that as many as 40,000 now reside in Trinidad and Tobago.
Given the gravity of this situation, the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad & Tobago wishes to commend the Guyana Human Rights Association and other NGO’s and individuals in that country for speaking out and to call on all the Governments of CARICOM, civil society organisations and individuals to raise their voices against the unfolding tragedy before it is too late. We implore CARICOM to hold fast to its position articulated by the Honourable Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris during his message as outgoing Chairman of the 40th Conference of the CARICOM Heads of Government in July 2019: “we have consistently argued that the cardinal principles to undergird a resolution of the political crisis in Venezuela include non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, inviolability of the Sovereign State, respect for democracy, rule of law and the constitution of Venezuela as well as peace and resolution of conflict.” Dr Harris further described the right to self-determination of the people of Venezuela, as a core principle which, “should not be violated”. Their Government is currently seeking international observers to monitor their own elections.
The US attempt to break the unity espoused by CARICOM states must fail. According to Dr Harris, “ in a world where international law and multilateralism are being undermined and small states are being increasingly marginalized”, the principles espoused by CARICOM are “ what we have to cling to”. We stand in solidarity with the Government and people of Venezuela. War must not trump democracy.
Director of Regional and Pan-African Affairs