Caribbean Leaders Fear U.S. Navy Deployment Threatens Region as a ‘Zone of Peace’
May 19, 2020 (EIRNS)—Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers meeting May 7-8 in a virtual summit, were reportedly scheduled to discuss a memorandum prepared for the meeting, which warned that a U.S. Navy deployment into the region, ostensibly to combat Venezuela’s alleged drug-trafficking, threatens the region’s status as a “zone of peace.”
Although the memo, prepared by CARICOM’s Guyana-based Secretariat, was apparently not discussed as part of the public agenda, parts of its contents that were leaked this past week blame the Trump Administration for putting at risk the region’s peaceful nature. It also suggested that the U.S. Naval deployment may have had more to do with regime change in Venezuela than combatting drug-trafficking. As quoted by the New York-based daily Caribbean Life, it stated that “the U.S. has taken advantage of internal weakness wrought by the pandemic in countries where it has been seeking regime change—Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba—to strengthen its sanctions regime.” It writes that Venezuela has Russian support, and that has deepened “great power rivalry and the attendant security dangers, threatening the region’s stature as a zone of peace.”
The 15-nation CARICOM has not had a uniform policy regarding Venezuela, although no one favors U.S. military intervention. Now, whiplashed by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, the region could not tolerate the upheaval that would ensue from a U.S. military incursion. Both Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana are dealing with tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees, which have severely affected their economies.
Last week, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, who has defied the State Department by meeting with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez to discuss collaboration on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, warned that “tensions have come to our borders, we do not have the wherewithal to prevent that, so we simply have to rely on the principles of international justice. Nothing has changed, our position remains the same. Trinidad and Tobago is part of CARICOM. We view the Caribbean as a zone of peace.” Notably, the U.S. Treasury is now threatening to slap sanctions on Trinidad and Tobago, suggesting that it illegally sold gasoline to Venezuela, through Venezuela's state-run oil firm PDVSA, a charge the island-nation denies.