PM Skerrit and President Maduro shake hands in Caracas on Monday

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, was among several regional leaders who congregated Caracas, Venezuela for a meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) to mark five years since the passing of Hugo Chavez.

Chavez died in 2013 of cancer.

The meeting was chaired by Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela.

“Five years ago I had to give the hardest news of my life. Five years later we remember Chavez, no longer with tears, but with a smile and commitment to the future of the Fatherland,” Maduro declared during the summit. “Today with more security and strength than ever we say that the Venezuelan people are more Chavista than ever. Chávez lives! On Sunday, May 20th we will have elections. We are deciding between peace and violence; democracy or coups; between the independence or the submission of the Fatherland.”

The summit also reiterated the support of member-states of ALBA for Venezuela to be allowed to determine its future and address its problems without external interference.

“We proclaim the unwavering support for the Bolivarian Revolution and the civic-military union of its people commanded by comrade Nicolas Maduro,” President of Cuba, Raúl Castro said at the summit. “The United States since 1999 when Comandante Chavez has become president, they have resorted to methods of unconventional warfare in order to subdue this country, which owns enormous natural wealth.”

The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega added, “We see clearly the attempt to delegitimize the revolutionary process of Venezuela that has been advancing in spite of challenges and difficulties. In the face of violence, the people have always called for peace.”

Venezuela is presently facing the worst humanitarian and economic crisis in its history. Maduro has been accused of pushing the country to totalitarianism by eroding democratic legitimacy over the past year with multiple fraudulent elections and the creation of a “national constituent assembly,” which stripped away the power of elected lawmakers and replaced them with pro-government supporters.

Maduro has repeatedly blamed external forces for the crisis in his country.