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Celac backs dialogue in Venezuela, condemns criminalization of migration

The Celac nations are backing dialogue in Venezuela, asking the United States to end certain measures against that country and condemning the criminalization of irregular migration, according to the draft of the final declaration emerging from the fifth summit of the regional forum being held Wednesday in the Dominican Republic.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is also demanding that Washington return to Cuba the military base at Guantanamo and end “without conditions” the US economic embargo against that country, according to the so-called Punta Cana Policy Declaration, to which EFE received access on Wednesday.

Dominican President Danilo Medina on Tuesday inaugurated the summit in the tourist city of Punta Cana, but a reduced number of regional leaders are in attendance this time, most of them having cancelled their participation due to scheduling problems.

In the declaration, Celac supports “the process of national dialogue” in Venezuela and encourages the parties to resume good faith conversations with a high degree of “constructive commitment.”

As several diplomatic officials confirmed to EFE on Tuesday, Venezuela’s request for support for dialogue there sparked reservations among several nations, including Paraguay, and debate on the inclusion of this point in the final declaration lasted several hours.

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga told EFE that Asuncion was not going to back a statement favoring dialogue in Venezuela unless a demand was also included that the Nicolas Maduro government display “democratic commitment.”

The Celac leaders also agreed to demand that Washington cancel its March 2015 decree imposing economic sanctions on Venezuelan officials and return the Guantanamo base to Cuba.

In the first Celac meeting since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, the forum did not refer in its declaration to the protectionist policies and threats made by the new president and limited itself to condemning the criminalization of illegal migration.

“We share a comprehensive view of international migration based on a focus on human rights that rejects the criminalization of irregular migration,” the draft states.

The Celac leaders also hailed “the decision by some governments to eliminate discriminatory and selective migration policies that affect migration flows in the region,” a reference to the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy overturned earlier this month by former US President Barack Obama before he left office, a policy that had accorded special privileges to Cubans.

The leaders of Mexico, Chile, Panama, Colombia and Guatemala all cancelled their summit participation at the last moment.