Caribbeans express concern about Venezuela
Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2002
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- The Caribbean Community said Saturday it was worried about political instability in Venezuela, especially with several segments of society challenging President Hugo Chavez's ability to lead the country.
The Guyana-based secretariat of the 15-member Caribbean Community issued a statement saying it was concerned about recent events which "call into question the legitimacy of the democratically elected government."
In recent weeks, Chavez has faced two alleged assassination plots, coup plots, a general strike, a small military protest and a threatened indefinite strike.
A group of Venezuelan military officers declared themselves in rebellion on October 22. They are pushing for early elections, citing Chavez's politicization of the military and an economy in crisis.
The left-leaning Chavez was elected president in 1998 and re-elected in 2000 on an anti-corruption, anti-poverty platform, vowing to destroy a system that impoverished 80 percent of Venezuela's 24 million people.
Chavez was ousted from power after 19 people died during an April 11 opposition march and his generals disobeyed an order to deploy troops against civilians. He was restored April 14 after interim President Pedro Carmona dissolved Venezuela's constitution.
The Caribbean Community's statement provided no further details except to say the group rejected violence and was committed to promoting dialogue.
Two Caricom members are close to Venezuela. Guyana shares a 350-kilometer (220-mile) border with the South American country and Trinidad and Tobago's coastline is some 32 kilometers (20 miles) away.