By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
In light of three countries being excluded from the upcoming Summit of the Americas, Foreign Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell has announced that the government is reversing the previous administration's position on Venezuela and is now supporting Nicholas Maduro's regime.
The summit is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, California, June 6-10, and will play host to leaders from throughout the Caribbean and Latin American region. However, the host country, the United States, has decided to exclude Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba from attending this year’s summit, prompting calls from some Caribbean leaders for a boycott.
Mr Mitchell, who was giving his contribution during the budget debate on Thursday, said: “There has been a concern that three countries have not been invited to the summit; they are Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and we have spoken up to the Americans. There are some countries that have decided, because those countries are not being invited that they will not attend…”
Other leaders from Latin America have also decided not to attend and are sending their foreign affairs ministers to the summit instead.
The Biden administration said it is seeking ways to represent the people of those three countries without having their leadership present.
Mr Mitchell said Prime Minister Philip Davis "wants to make the point to the Americans directly that you must have a summit of all countries of the hemisphere and not some countries of the hemisphere.”
One country disagreeing with the internal governance of another country is “not sufficient reason” to deny someone a seat at the table, he added.
The Maduro regime has been under various US imposed sanctions, which started in 2015 under former US President Barack Obama and intensified under his successor, Donald Trump.
The US government has labelled the Maduro government a “threat” to its national security and his presidency illegitimate following Venezuela's 2018 election that American observers have called deeply flawed and which led to the country’s 2019 presidential crisis.
The previous Free National Movement government led by Dr Hubert Minnis in 2019 decided to recognise Venezuelan opposition leader and interim president Juan Guaido, a move that was “appreciated” by the former Trump administration.
In other news concerning the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Mitchell said along with new hires, they are looking at opening consulates in Toronto, Los Angeles, Dubai, Jamaica, Trinidad and Panama.