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 Michelle Bachelet, UN Human Rights Commissioner

 

What about the interests of the ordinary Venezuelan people
By Sir Ronald Sanders

Michelle Bachelet is a torture survivor. She was arrested in 1975 by the late dictator Augusto Pinochet's political police and detained in the notorious Villa Grimaldi torture centre.   So, she knows much about the suffering of people.  

She is also an astute politician with a keen understanding of the social, economic and political challenges that face Latin American countries both locally and internationally. She served twice as an elected President of Chile from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018.   She is now the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner.

Therefore, serious attention should be paid to her August 8 statement that: “I am deeply worried about the potentially severe impact on the human rights of the people of Venezuela of the new set of unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. this week”. The new sanctions, imposed by executive order of President Donald Trump on August 5, froze all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

While the sanctions prohibit "the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked”, as well as "the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person", they have caused excessive caution across the globe by companies fearful of being caught in its net.  

Ms Bachelet has noted that while the latest sanctions technically do not apply to “transactions related to the provision of articles such as food, clothing and medicine intended to be used to relieve human suffering, they are still likely to significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans, especially as there will certainly be over-compliance by financial institutions around the world that have commercial relations with the governments of the U.S. and Venezuela”. “I fear”, she said, “that they will have far-reaching implications on the rights to health and to food in particular, in a country where there are already serious shortages of essential goods”. 

The reality of the situation in Venezuela is that people are suffering as a result of a combination of circumstances that started with poor management of the economy, once among the richest in Latin America, and a political clash with the United States resulting from Hugo Chavez’s desire to create a regional block in Latin American and the Caribbean, based on government-arranged trade and independent of the U.S. and Canada.  

Since then, the situation has worsened as forces within the U.S., motivated by political imperatives domestically, and the desire to re-enforce U.S. power internationally, have sought to remove Chavez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, from office. The U.S., backed by Canada and a handful of Latin American and Caribbean countries, anointed Juan Guaidó, the present President of the National Assembly, as “Interim President” of Venezuela, promoting a rivalry within Venezuela which occasioned violent clashes, injury and death but no progress in relieving the plight of the majority of Venezuelans.

Much of the international effort to declare Maduro illegitimate and to secure recognition of Guaidó has centred in the Organisation of American States (OAS) where the U.S. and its handful of Latin American and Caribbean supporters hold sway by virtue of an 18-member majority.   Resolutions directed at the Maduro government have scraped through meetings of the Permanent Council and the General Assembly, rending the Organisation asunder and adversely affecting the bilateral relations of its member states, including within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Another such resolution will be placed before the OAS Permanent Council in the coming days. But, while lofty statements will be made in the name of human rights of the Venezuelan people on the one hand, and respect for the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a state on the other, the agony within Venezuela will continue. 

The solution to the Venezuelan crisis does not reside in the manoeuvrings which have been indulged in the OAS. The Organization has been trapped in a struggle for power between the opposing political sides in Venezuela.   Support for one or the other has been based on ideological positions, historic geographical enmities or pressure on small countries in thrall to powerful ones. 

The right and proper place to discuss the Venezuelan debacle and to try to find a solution is the United Nations – more specifically, the Security Council. It is the right and proper place because it is there that the powerful players behind one faction or the other in Venezuela meet as equals – the U.S., Russia and China.

All the efforts at brokering a deal between the Maduro government and the opposition forces, now nominally headed by Guaidó, including the recent commendable effort by Norway, have failed because the two sides have each been given comfort and encouragement by one external power or another. Neither of the Venezuelan rivals will make the significant concessions necessary to end their conflict as long as they are convinced that a powerful external force is backing their ambitions for political control of Venezuela.   

Should the day ever arise when the U.S., Russia and China collectively lock the representatives of the rival Venezuelan parties in a room and tell them not to emerge until they have devised a solution to whose implementation they are all irrevocably committed, nothing will change. 

The likelihood of such a development is remote. Their own global rivalry, economically and militarily, as well as their peculiar interest in Venezuela and its oil and gas resources which, though they are not now being exploited, still exist, dictate that Venezuela will remain a pawn in a big game of global chess.

However, both President Trump and President Maduro have recently revealed that their two governments have been talking. That is a very helpful development and it could amount to something meaningful if President Trump involves Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

It all depends on whether any of them is paying attention to Michelle Bachelet who made a plaintive call to “those with influence in Venezuela and in the international community to work together constructively for a political solution to the protracted crisis in the country, by putting the interests and human rights of the long-suffering people of Venezuela above all else.”

Latest News in Pictures

Signing agreements for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, DC on 24 July 2019.  The agreemenst were signed by the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders (sitting right) and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Citaku (sitting left). Frymezin Isufaj and Joy-Dee Davis. Ministers Coundellor (standing left to right)

 

 Speaking at US Capitol Hill in behalf of CARICOM during Caribbean Legislative Week on 5 June 2019

 

Meeting Wesley Kirton Co-Chair Caribbean Studies Associaton, US, and Captain Gerry Gouveia of the Guyana Privat Sector at Antigua and Barbuda Embassy, Washington, DC on 4 June 2019

 

On 15 May, 2019 with the formidable US Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is Chair of the Financail Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.  I had presentred the case against de-risking, withdrawal of correspondent banking relations and blacklisting alone with CARICOM Ministers of National Security. 

 

 Testifying on 14th May, 2019 before the US International Trade Commission on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and Caribbaean States on the perennial US trade surplus with the region which reached $7 Billion in 2018. 

 

Sir Ronald at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking trade and other relations between the US and CARICOM countries, especially Antigua and Barbuda, with Cingressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) on  27 February 2019.

 

Caribbean Ambassadors in Washington with US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Kim Breier, at the US State Department. Sir Ronald third from right in January 2019. 

 

In July 2018, while in Ottawa for Antigua and Barbuda bilateral talks with Canadian government officials, Sir Ron ran into old and repected friend, Joe Clarke - former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Canada and a great warrior in the anti-apartheid struggle.

 

With Ambassador Jesus Silvera of Panama, receiving a donation to the rebuilding of Barbuda, June 2018

 

With OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, on 6 June 2018, signing the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and  Related Forms of Intolerance.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first signatory to the Convention and the second country to ratify the Convention. 
 

 Signing ceremony in Washington, DC of Abolition of Visa Requirements between Ukraine and Antigua and Barbuda in May 2018.  Ukraine Amnbasador (left) and Joy-Dee Davis, Minister Counsellor, Antigua and Barbuda Embassy (right) 

 

 With Governor-General of Canada,Her Excellency Julie Payette, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 30th 2018.  In addition to beeing accredited to Canada as High Commissioner, I have the honour of sharing the distinction with this amazing former Astronaut of being a Senior Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

 

In Tobago after delivering feature address at The Tobago Finance week on 13 November 2017.  Photo shows, Economist Terrence Farrell, Sir Ronald, Tobago Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, and Anthony Pierre, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Chartered Accountants

 

 In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad speaking at the annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago on 9 November 2017

 

 Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, prior to appearnace at the World Trade Organisation on Antigua and Barbuda's contention with the US government on the WTO award to Antigua over Internet Gaming, September 2017 

 

 Speaking on Refugees resulting from Climate Change and the growing danger to small island states at an event organised by OXFAM in Washington, DC on 30 October 2017. (Heather Coleman, OXFAM; Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda; Selwyn Hart (Barbados), Lisa Friedman, New York Times)

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.  He was talking about the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma and the remedies for Climate Change and Global Warming.  To his left are:  The Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and St Lucia Prime Minister Alan Chastanet

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the security and other threats posed to the Caribbean and the Hemisphere of Climate Change and Global Warming on 13 September 2017

 

 Sir Ronald (third right) with senior officers of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, DC after discussing what assistance could be given in the clean up and rebuilding of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma (Friday, 15 September 2017)

 

With US Congressman, Ranking member of Committee on Foreign Affairs at Capitol Hill on 14 September, discussiing secutty matters, Hurricane Irma and Barbuda and the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues.  Very helpful.

 

 With US Congressman Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill talking the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues, and the effets of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda on 12 September, 2017.  Good man. 

 

 Talking to the Emergency Agencies of the OAS about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda and seeking assistance on 14 September 2017

 

Sir Ronald with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on 28 August 2017 discussing Canada-Antigua and Barbuda bilateral matters.

 

Sir Ronald with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States in Cancun, in June 2017

 

Heads of Delegations to the OAS General Assembly in Cancun.  Mexican Presdident, sixth from right, front row.  Sir Ronald fourth from right, front row.

 

Meeting of Consulation on the situation in Venezuela at the Organisation of American States on 31 May 2017 Sir Ronald (far right).

 

With Texas Congressman Randy Weber at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking energy, water and US-Antigua and Barbuda relations on Wednesday 5 April, 2017 

 

 

With my colleague Argentine Ambassador to the OAS, Juan Jose Acuri (right) and the Argentina candidate for election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rigjts Dr Carlos de Casas on 29 March 2016

 

 At the International Monetary Fund with Exceutive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, Nancy Horsman, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

At the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy receiving Antonia Urrejola, the candidate of Chile for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, on 23 March 2017 

 

 With the Mexican Candidate for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernadez Garcia, on 21 March 2017

 

 At the World Bank on20 March 2017 meeting Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, to talk about Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

With Joe Barton, US Congressman from the State of Texas in his Office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 16 March 2017 discussing US-Antigua and Barbuda relations

 

Hosting a meeting at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Washington, DC of diplomatic representatives of St Lucia (Ambassador Anton Edmunds, St Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Thelma Phillip-Browne and St Vincent Deputy Chief of Mission Omari Williams)

 

Meeting the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cabanas Rodriguez at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

 

With the Ambassador of Ecudaor to the United States, Francisco Borja Cevallos, talking Ecuador-Antigua and Barbuda relations on 13 February 2017

 

 With US Congressman Gus Bilikakis (Dem,Fl) for talls on Caiptol Hill in Washington

 

With Charlie Crist, US Congressman (Dem, Fl) for discussions on US-Antigua and Barbuda matters

 

 With US Senator Jeff Duncan, Chair Foreign Relations Committee talking energy and Citizenship by Investement Programmes in the Caribbean

 

 With Professor Louis Gates Jr at the Smithsonian National Musuem of African American History in Washington, DC after an evening of enlightening presentations on the neglected story of the building of the US 

Videos of historic Rastafarian occasion at the OAS on 14 May 2018

The You Tube Video below is the historic occasion at the Permanent Delegation of the Organisation of American States (OAS) when Antigua and Barbuda led the way in aplogising for the wrongs done to the Rastafarian community of the Caribbean. It was the first time that a representavive of the Rastafarian community addressed a high-level inter-governmental body.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR-In_q1dR8&feature=youtu.be
 

Another You Tube Video is the Report to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April 2018 on the Antigua and Barbuda General Elections of March 21.   See video of the report on You Tube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFm3Y_AzTxE

 

Sir Ronald Statements at the OAS

Two statements made at the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April, 2018 have been posted in the "Lectures" section.    The statements are on:  The Guatemala Referendum authorising the Government to take the border dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice; and a Report on the General Elections held in Antigua and Barbuda on 21 March, 2018.

TV Interviews in the US

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) carried two programmes, coast-to-coast on 23 stations in the US on the Caribbean, featuring interviews with three Caribbean Ambassadors including Sir Ron.   The YouTube links to the programmes are below:

PART ONE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPWd8qSRdTY&feature=youtu.be

PART TWO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtjZgRC9rU&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

 

The TV Network CSPAN interviewed Sir Ronald in a cost-to-coast boadcast on the effects of Hurricanes and other matters related to Antigua and Barbuda.   The link to the interview is below:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?434242-3/washington-journal-ronald-sanders-discusses-impact-irma-antigua-barbuda


All posts...

Election for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General

Sir Ronald was a candidate for election to the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General In November 2015 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. View further details here.

Portrait of Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is currently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

Welcome

Welcome to this website. I created it in 2009 in response to many requests for access to commentaries I have written, lectures I have given and interviews that have been broadcast or printed in the media on matters related to the political economy of the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.  They are all avaialble here for free.

These requests have come from university students, publications, academics, government officials and business people in many parts of the world. In the course of responding to these requests, I have been pleased to build up a network of global contacts who now receive my commentaries weekly.

From a career that encompassed broadcast and print journalism, development and commercial banking, diplomacy and international negotiations in both the public and private sectors, I am privileged to draw on wide and varied experiences to write, lecture and undertake consultancies.  The latter activity was susended while I carry out my present functions as Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda. 

I have taken the greatest pleasure in receiving comments and criticism from people all over the world that the Internet has made a “village”. I have learned from many of the comments I received. They have caused me to reflect on my own thinking. Through this website, I hope to communicate regularly with all who write to me.

The website is now a permanent repository of the weekly commentaries and lectures going back several years. Anyone is free to access them here, and to cite them provided my permission is sought in advance through the “Contact me” mechanism. A few of the lectures I have given in Britain and in the Caribbean are also posted on the site in a PDF format which can be easily downloaded. Again, I would make the same request to seek my permission before citing the material.

I invite responses to my writings, and inquiries about the experience and knowledge I can bring to achieving the objectives of companies and organizations that do business related to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Kind regards

Ronald Sanders