Four CARICOM leaders at NAM summit in Venezuela
MARGARITA ISLAND - Only four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were among the kings, presidents and prime ministers of the 120-member Non Aligned Movement (NAM), which started its two-day summit in Margarita Island, Venezuela on Saturday -- and only two were expected to be present when the final declaration is adopted Sunday.
But altogether, ten of CARICOM’s 15 member-states are represented at the third such summit to be held on a Caribbean island, which started with a meeting of officials on Tuesday and of foreign affairs ministers on Thursday.
Known more for its beaches and tropical tourism fare than as a venue for meetings of world leaders, the tiny island has been home to the CARICOM delegations since the 17th NAM Summit started earlier this week.
The four prime ministers -- Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Roosevelt Skeritt of Dominica, Dr Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines -- were in Margarita Island on Saturday, when the two-day summit began.
But Harris and Skeritt both returned home on Saturday evening.
Six other CARICOM member-states are also represented, with Senator Peter David leading the Grenada delegation, and Saint Lucia represented by non-resident ambassador to ALBA and PetroCaribe Eustace Vitalis.
Other states represented by their resident ambassadors in Venezuela were Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was expected to address the weekend summit on its last day.
He hinted before it started on Saturday that he would propose to transform the Non-Aligned Movement into “an international organization that defiantly says no to the new colonialism”.
Under the slogan "United on the Path for Peace,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez gave the inaugural address on Tuesday, saying that during the weekend summit her country “will also ratify the defence of the right of the people of the world to fight for peace and sovereignty”.
"Emancipation, anti-imperialism and peace are the flags that define the XVII NAM Summit Venezuela 2016," said Rodriguez.
Among other ideals being promoted by the NAM, she added, are respect for independence, self-determination, sovereignty and the promotion of cooperative relations on the basis of mutual respect.
The organization also strives towards preservation of world peace and strongly opposes social exclusion. It also advocates non-interference in the internal affairs of states, as well as the disarmament and the fight against all forms of manifestation of imperial domination.
Venezuela has assumed NAM's rotating presidency for the next three years, after taking over from Iran.
With 120 member states, NAM is the second largest international body after the United Nations. It has 53 members from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organizations.
This is the third time a Caribbean island has hosted a NAM summit and the fourth time for a Latin American country.
Cuba hosted the NAM summit and assumed the presidency in 1979 and 2006 and Venezuela’s neighbour, Colombia, hosted the 1995 summit.
The Margarita summit ended Sunday. (The Diplomatic Courier)
Photo: St Vincent and the Grenadines PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves (L) led his multi-island state’s delegation to the Margarita summit, where ten CARICOM member-states were represented