Antigua and Barbuda did not participate in the second preparatory meeting for the Summit of the Americas yesterday as it joined the list of countries protesting Venezuela's exclusion from the Summit scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in April.
Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), which is responsible for the preparation of the meeting, explained that Antigua and Barbuda withdrew from the meeting on the point of principle.
Sanders said the government of Venezuela was excluded from participation without any prior explanation or discussion by the member-states of the OAS at any level.
Sanders noted that “Venezuela’s exclusion from the second preparatory meeting was curious because it had been a full and constructive participant in the first meeting a few weeks ago.”
Commenting on Peru's, the host country for the summit, move to disinvite Venezuela's President Nicolas, he said: “While the host country traditionally has been able to invite attendance by a high representative of a county that is not a member state, it is not acceptable to reject a sitting member-state of the Organization which plans and executes the meeting”.
He added: “I want to make it clear that our stand is on behalf of all member states, not Venezuela alone. If this is allowed to occur, then any member state of the OAS could be excluded from a Summit meeting or a general assembly meeting at the sole behest of the host country”.
The country’s Deputy Head of Mission to the OAS, Joy-Dee Davis, said following Sanders' statement and before withdrawing from the meeting: “Antigua and Barbuda does not know of, nor has it participated in, any official decision of the Summit of the Americas, the OAS General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Affairs or of the Permanent Council to disenfranchise any active Member State from these meetings. We find this precedent of unilateral exclusion appalling and unacceptable ... Therefore, on that basis and until this situation is rectified, Antigua and Barbuda regrets that it cannot participate in the meeting.”
The governments of Ecuador, Dominica, Cuba, Uruguay, and Bolivia have already expressed their opposition to excluding Venezuela from the summit.
Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit criticized Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kusczinki for overstepping his boundaries and excluding Venezuela from the international meeting. "The president of Peru has no authority to suspend the invitation to a member country; he only has the status of host country, but not authority," he told teleSUR English.
Ecuadorean Vice President, Maria Alejandra Vicuna, has said: "It's important that Venezuela be present to hear the different positions on its problems, and above all, the recommendations and the suggestions. We will never be in favor of intervention of any kind, much less military."
Uruguay’s interim Foreign Minister, Ariel Bergamino, said his government opposes the decision by the Lima Group to disinvite Venezuela. “The Lima Group doesn't have a juridical status nor an established institutionality. It has expressed itself, but we are not a part of it," he said.
He went on to highlight that “this environment of tension and exasperation has only one victim and that is the Venezuelan society. We must try to help Venezuelans reconcile and overcome their problems. Uruguay is always willing to help, to create areas to help resolve their problems peacefully, but always within the law.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales reiterated his country’s solidarity with Venezuela and criticized the United States' role in excluding Venezuela from the Summit.
“We reject that a minority of countries directed by Trump’s interventionist obsession wants to turn the Summit of the Americas into a coup instrument against Venezuela. Attacking a president democratically elected is attacking the people who elected him,” Morales said via Twitter in February.