The Guyana Government has given all assurances that it will assist neighbouring Venezuela with its current internal crisis, although that country has not officially approached Guyana for help. Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said in a statement on Monday that the two Governments routinely utilised direct diplomatic channels to communicate.
However, based on the statements made by the country’s Ambassador to Guyana, Reina Diaz, during a recent press conference in Georgetown, Greenidge said he felt the need to reach out.
“Guyana, as a matter of routine, stands ready to assist or support all Caricom States and immediate neighbours, where appropriate, when asked,” Greenidge said.
Diaz has said that the unrest in Venezuela has been caused by “radical sectors of the political Opposition” who have a clear objective to “overthrow the legitimate and constitutional” Government of Venezuela and reverse the social achievements of the Venezuelan people.
She noted that at the international level, Guyana can support the actions taken by the Venezuelan Government to resolve the situation in that country.
To determine the seriousness of the Venezuelan request for assistance, the Minister invited Diaz to the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Thursday, May 25 where she again stated that her country could benefit from Guyana’s support at international fora. Greenidge agreed to communicate the request.
Greenidge urged dialogue among all stakeholders in Venezuela, including the Government and Opposition, and stressed that any support from Government for the people of Venezuela did not indicate automatic agreement with the Venezuelan Government’s policies and its mode of implementing those.
He reminded that Guyana was a member of the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States (CELAC) that met to try to resolve Venezuela’s deteriorating situation as well as the standoff between its Government and Opposition. Guyana had done the same with another regional body, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
“The Government of Guyana has no desire to compound the problems of Venezuela by joining one or other of the protagonists,” he stated.
Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro had earlier this month signed a decree to convene a new constituent assembly, which would comprise some 500 constituents — mainly working-class members who will be tasked with developing a new constitution; that is, reshaping the current legislative body as well as redefining the President’s executive powers.
The Maduro Administration claims this move is aimed at restoring in the country the peace which was disrupted by the Opposition’s “so-called peaceful” protests, occasioned by the deadlock between the President and the Opposition-controlled Parliament.
The Venezuelan Government, which has of recent come under pressure to address the growing unrest in the country, has cited Articles 347, 348 and 349 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in support of its move. The country’s Constitution, reformed in 1999, includes provisions for the Executive to convoke a Constituent Assembly.
According to Article 347, the original constituent power rests with the Venezuelan people, and this power can be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new judicial order, and drawing up a new Constitution.
The subsequent Article provide various options to invoke the National Constituent Assembly: by the President, with the Council of Ministers, by a decision of two-thirds of the Members of the National Assembly, by the Municipal Council members by a vote of two-thirds of its members, or by 15 per cent of the voters registered in the civil and electoral register.
According to Ambassador Diaz, the move to convene a constituent assembly allows for the people of the country to sit and debate on the country’s situation with intention to establish formulas to encourage national dialogue.