STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ODEEN ISHMAEL, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF GUYANA, ON BEHALF OF CARICOM DELEGATIONS TO THE SPECIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE OAS, ON THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA WASHINGTON DC, 18 APRIL 2002
Posted April 20th. 2002
Mr. Chairman, Foreign Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I take the floor to speak on behalf of the CARICOM delegations participating in this Special General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
We have listened very carefully to the report by the Secretary General on the fact-finding mission recently undertaken in Venezuela. We have also taken note of the statement made by the distinguished Foreign Minister of Venezuela.
We wish to state that we welcome the return to democratic Government in Venezuela and hope that the restoration of peace and stability will continue to the benefit of that country. The loss of life, which accompanied the recent violence, is deeply regretted.
As Governments which subscribe to the practice of democracy and as signatories, like Venezuela, to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we firmly believe that constitutional rule should at all times prevail.
To return to normality the Government of Venezuela should draw upon the lessons learned to strengthen the process of representative and participatory democracy in Venezuela. This will help to diminish the negative elements which led to the breakdown of constitutional order in that country. We also applaud President Chavez' call for unity, reconciliation and engagement of the various sectors in Venezuelan society. We therefore call on all parties to dialogue in good faith.
The Inter-American Democratic Charter spells out very clearly the importance of democracy for our peoples and firmly speaks out against any unconstitutional act that removes a democratically elected government. This Special General Assembly must send a clear message to those who would take power by unconstitutional means that such behavior will not be tolerated in this hemisphere. Our message to such forces must be clear and unambiguous.
We affirm the legitimate and democratic right to freedom of expression in a peaceful manner as well as the right of the people to change their government in periodic elections held under the rules of their nation's constitution.
Mr. Chairman, Early on the morning of April 14, the Permanent Council passed a resolution (CP/RES 811) condemning the alteration of constitutional order in Venezuela. While expressing strong denunciation of the acts of violence that led to the loss of life, the resolution also expressed solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and supported their resolve to re-establish full democracy, with guarantees for citizens and respect for fundamental freedoms, within the framework of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
We welcome the draft resolution of this Special General Assembly, particularly to the role the OAS can play in assisting the Government of Venezuela if invited by that Government.
The Governments of the Caribbean Community look forward to the normalization of the political situation in Venezuela. At the same time they urge all political forces to respect the norms of democracy and constitutional order norms which are firmly enshrined in the Inter American Democratic Charter.