Antigua and Barbuda condemns OAS vote

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The Antigua and Barbuda government has condemned a vote at the Organisation of American States (OAS) earlier this week that could open the possibility for a military invasion of Venezuela where opposition parties with the backing of the United States are seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Foreign Affairs Minister, E.P. Chet Greene, was also critical of Haiti, a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country that voted in favour of a 72-year-old treaty that would allow for the possible invasion.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have long called for non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and have not supported any military invasion of the South American country.

He said this action was taken on Wednesday, during a session of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) from which 17 of its legitimate member states were excluded.

Greene said that the Council allowed the representative Juan Guaido, the self-appointed Interim president of Venezuela, to participate in the deliberations.

A government statement here said that 10 governments and Juan Gauido’s representative invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, also called the Rio Treaty, under which its signatories authorise themselves to use military force against a country on a pretext of common defence and for the maintenance of the peace and security of the Continent.

Only 17 legitimate member states of the OAS are signatories to the 72-year-old Treaty which was created after World War II and which has no relevance in international law today. Of the 17 states, only three CARICOM countries are signatories: the Bahamas, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago.

As a result, 16 OAS member countries, including Antigua and Barbuda were excluded from voting, alongside five signatory countries that opposed the resolution.

“The invocation of the Rio Treaty is clearly a ruse to use an anachronistic treaty to promote an invasion of Venezuela on the pretext of that country’s aggression, even though no evidence of such aggression has been disclosed, nor is there any shred of proof that it is a threat to peace and security in the hemisphere,” Greene said.

“The entire world should be alarmed at this dangerous action which violates the Charters of the United Nations and the Organisation of American states and may result in the heavy loss of life and wrecking of peace in the hemisphere,” he added.

Greene noted that Trinidad and Tobago abstained in the vote on the resolution and that the Bahamas was absent.

“Antigua and Barbuda is deeply concerned that Haiti, a member state of CARICOM, voted to open the door to invasion of a country, particularly since Haiti itself is a victim of an invasion from which it has never recovered”.

“Standing for international law and the peaceful settlement of issues, small though we are, Antigua and Barbuda, will raise its voice in every international forum against this dangerous action”, he said.

The countries that voted for the resolution are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, the United States of America (10) and the representatives of Juan Guaido.

Signatory countries that did not support the resolution are Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago. The Bahamas was absent.

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