Guyana says ‘perhaps best’ Maduro not at OAS Summit


By Neil Marks in Lima, Peru

Guyana says the absence of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the Summit of the Americas is “best” given the need for an atmosphere conducive to dialogue.

“I don’t think the world…wants a forum that is convened knowing fully well that the parties are not going to be comfortable speaking to each other in a civil manner; so it is perhaps for the best,” Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge told Guyanese media in Lima.

This is the eight summit organised by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and is the first time neither a U.S. President nor a Venezuelan President would attend.

Maduro had said Trump’s decision to cancel his attendance at the Summit, which would have marked his first visit to Latin America as the U.S. president, showed “disdain” for the Region, but the Peruvian President said the attendance of Vice President Mike Pence shows that is not the case.

Maduro’s absence has proven to overshadow the summit, which this time around focuses on ways to address corruption.

The Peruvian Government two months ago rescinded Maduro’s invitation and withdrew security for the Venezuelan delegation. The host country made the decision in collaboration with others of the Lima Group, which was formed to address the crisis in Venezuela.

Others in the Lima Group are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay.

The Lima Group said its criticism of the democratic process in Venezuela was in keeping with an OAS declaration of 2011 which dictated that “unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process.”

Maduro had said he would attend the Summit anyway and that neither “rain, nor thunder or lightning” would stop him, but days before the Summit he backed down, saying the meeting would be a waste of time.

“If you want to have a fruitful exchange, it is equally important that the steps running up to that exchange be appropriate as the meeting itself,” Greenidge added, saying that if the circumstance is where “abuse is a characteristic” it “perhaps is the best thing” that Maduro is not attending.

With the U.S. President also not attending the meeting, Greenidge suggested the outcome would not be as fruitful.

“It would have been better if we had full participation at the summit,” Greenidge stated, but he said it neither depresses nor worries him.

“It would not be a waste of time,” he stated.

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