The Caribbean Community (Caricom) will be backing Venezuela in its bid for a non-permanent United Nations Security Council seat in October, when it becomes vacant with the expiry of Argentina’s two-year term.
This decision, which has been linked to outstanding issues for coming discussion with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, was to be reflected in the communique to be released at the conclusion of the four-day 27th Caricom Summit yesterday.
This would not be good news for Guatemala, which has been intensely competing with Venezuela for the seat with the open support from the United States of America, which remains firmly opposed to the Chavez administration.
While Caricom leaders were still in the final stages of their summit deliberations, Arthur and his Vincentian counterpart, Ralph Gonsalves, separately went public with their opposition to Guatemala’s candidature, based, they said, on firm principles consistent with national and regional interest.
Arthur was blunt in declaring on Thursday that Guatemala had been consistent in pursuit of polices inimical to the best interests of Caricom states.
He cited, as examples, Guatemala’s lead role in opposing the battle, by Caricom, for a favourable regime in World Trade Organisation negotiations for this region’s banana exports to Europe.
Gonsalves had declared as early as Wednesday that "there is no way the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines will support Guatemala against Venezuela in securing the UN Security Council seat".
"Not after the bitter experience we of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) have had in seeking the cooperation of Guatemala in securing viable options in our banana exports," he said.
Both Arthur and Gonsalves-like at least two other Prime Ministers who preferred not to go public just yet-also spoke against Guatemala resorting to using the influence of the USA to campaign on its behalf, rather than engaging in direct negotiations as a sovereign state, deemed an offensive occurrence.
Critical to the consensus that evolved in favour of support for Venezuela, according to conference sources, was the positions of both Guyana and Belize, which have colonial-inherited border disputes with Venezuela and Guatemala respectively.
From the Miami Herald:
Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Jorge Briz Abularach, in a phone interview with The Miami Herald, said Guatemala has never sat on the council even though it is a U.N. founding member and has frequently contributed troops to peace operation.
According to Briz, Guatemala has secured 90 votes so far. The winner needs two-thirds of the General Assembly votes, or 127, although a smaller number would suffice if fewer votes are cast. The elections are to take place in October.
U.S. State Department officials, who requested anonymity to speak freely on a delicate subject, say Guatemala should be backed by a vast majority of European and Asian democracies.
Guatemala also has the backing of Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Briz said.
Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil already have said they would vote for Venezuela. Venezuela has focused its lobbying for the Security Council seat on less-developed countries in places like Africa.