PM: Bahamas remains “firm” of Venezuelan stance
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While reaffirming The Bahamas’ decision to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said U.S. President Donald Trump was “very appreciative” of The Bahamas holding its position.
At the U.S. president’s invite, Minnis joined the leaders of Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti and St. Lucia in multi-lateral meetings with U.S. National Security Minister John Bolton, and Trump last Friday in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.
Those countries supported a resolution at the Organization of American States in January to not recognize embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
However, CARICOM member states adopted a position of non-interference.
Asked about Trump’s response to The Bahamas’ affirming its position on Venezuela, Minnis said the U.S. president was “very appreciative of the leaders there to hold their position”.
“The Bahamas’ position is firm with Venezuela,” said Minnis during a press conference Saturday following the visit to Florida.
“The Bahamas’ position has not changed.
“Our position is and similar to that of the OAS — the OAS had categorically stated that the election in Venezuela was an illegitimate election.
“Our argument was, if the election is illegitimate it means the government is illegitimate.
“If the government is illegitimate, we are a democratic society which believes in democracy, both us and America, which means you must have new elections and that must be done as quickly as possible.
“That has been our position when America issued a statement that they were recognizing the opposition leader as the president of Venezuela.
“We likewise agreed because the election and the government was illegitimate, and the [National] Assembly had appointed Guido as the president of Venezuela. That position has not changed.
The economic collapse that Venezuela has been faced with has created a humanitarian crisis and forced millions to leave the country.
In January, Guaido declared he had a constitutional right to be president as head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
That month, The Bahamas was among 19 countries of the OAS that supported a resolution not to recognize embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
A contingent of regional leaders led by St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in late January to discuss a way forward that would bring about stability in Venezuela.
Last month, during CARICOM’s inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts and Nevis, the organization reaffirmed its position of non-interference in the affairs of Venezuela, noting instead that it was prepared to mediate to facilitate a peaceful resolution.
In his opening remarks during the meeting with the Caribbean leaders Friday, Trump said he expected to discuss trade, Venezuela and “ways that we can be beneficial to you and you can be beneficial to us”.
In a tweet Friday afternoon, the White House said the president’s meeting with the Caribbean leaders demonstrated “the administration’s deep commitment to our regional partners”.
“These relationships will increase cooperation on Venezuela — and demonstrate strong support for its people and interim president Guadio,” the Tweet read.
CARICOM leaders have taken exception to the five countries meeting with the president about issues affecting the region without the attendance of those authorized to represent CARICOM.