There are insidious developments at the Organisation of American States (OAS) that should trouble each of us. Among these developments is the introduction of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ‘green room-type’ process by which a small group of powerful states are seeking to impose their will on the decisions of member states.
They are doing so by first settling a core position among themselves and then luring selected small states to support their stance.
As we all know, this divide-and-rule tactic has always been a weapon in the arsenal of a small group of powerful nations in their relations with a bigger number of weaker countries. They employ it at will.
Within the OAS of 34 member states, CARICOM, with a collective vote of 14, represents a significant number because, traditionally, a two-thirds majority (or 22 votes) is required to adopt or alter substantive matters. In this regard, CARICOM, acting together, has the capacity to influence the activities of the OAS meaningfully.
Diluted In Strength
Recently, however, CARICOM has diluted its strength. A handful of powerful countries, with an agenda of naked self-interest, have strategically invited selected CARICOM countries to their meetings and ignored the others. They have succeeded in disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries, whose only strength lies in our solidarity. This worrying development has been particularly manifest in matters related to Venezuela.
There is clearly a calculated strategy in place by a group of nations to achieve regime change in Venezuela by using the OAS as a weapon of destruction. Their language is cast in adherence to the principles of democracy, constitutionality and humanitarianism, but behind the facade lies the sinister intent of toppling a duly elected government that challenges their unbridled hegemony in this hemisphere. A chosen and willing tool has been the secretary general, Luis Almagro, who has exceeded his authority by publicly attacking the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro. Mr Almagro’s outrageous behaviour has not been censured by any of the powerful governments. Instead, he has been applauded by a number of them.
While these actions are focused on Venezuela in name, it is the institutions of multilateralism and their rules that are being assaulted. As small countries that rely on multilateralism and its institutions and rules for our own protection, we should resist these assaults in our own interest.
Each of us in CARICOM may have specific concerns about the political, economic and social conditions in Venezuela, but we are all sufficiently seasoned political leaders to know that toppling a government will not end those conditions, particularly when there is no viable, electable single alternative to replace it.
In the meantime, none of our countries should allow itself to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends.
Prime Minister, St Vincent and the Grenadines