Friday 18th September, Saint Lucia will witness the arrival of a Venezuelan naval vessel, named the Simon Bolivar. This sail ship is used by the Venezuelan Armed Forces as a military training vessel and is currently on its Twenty-Seventh Instruction Cruise, this time through the Caribbean. After visits to many other territories, Castries will be its last port of call before returning to home port at La Guaira, Venezuela.
This friendly visit will commence at 8:30AM with a Welcome Ceremony as the vessel docks at Port Castries. In keeping with maritime tradition, the vessel will announce its presence with loud blasts as it fires blank volleys on arrival. It will be similarly responded through alternating fire from the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force at landside. The ceremony will witness a Guard of Honour made up of the Saint Lucia Cadet Corps, the playing the national anthems of the two allies by the Police Band and the officials present will proceed to tour the vessel. Students of the nearby schools have also been invited to witness this spectacle and tour the boat.
FREE VISITS TO THE VESSEL
Members of the public will be welcome to tour the vessel FREE of charge from Friday 18th until Monday 21st September. Visits to the vessel will be between 9AM – 11:30AM and 2:00PM – 5:00PM all throughout those days.
The entire Saint Lucian public is invited to visit the vessel which will be placed at the prominent and visible Berth Number 2, Pointe Seraphine.
DURING THEIR STAY
While on island, the Government of Saint Lucia and the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have organised an exciting mix of activities, both formal and informal for the 177 persons aboard the Simon Bolivar. The ship’s captain, Gines Añanguren Santana, will call on Her Excellency the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy and Prime Minister The Hon. Dr Kenny D Anthony.
REMEMBERING JEAN BAPTISTE BIDEAU
Place Bideau will also be the site of a wreath laying ceremony Friday afternoon at 3:00PM. The small park between the Treasury Building and the Government Printery memorialises Jean Baptiste Bideau, a Saint Lucian-born privateer and mariner, who himself led Venezuela’s revolutionary navy, and is himself hailed as being responsible for saving the life of the father of Latin American independence, Simon Bolivar.
The Venezuelan military cadets will also be treated to visits to the Pigeon Island National Landmark and Saint Lucia’s World Heritage Site in Soufriere. A friendly football match has been organised for Saturday morning at the Sab Playing Field, a field which benefited from Venezuelan assistance over the years. Some cadets will also assist in clean-up and repair works at the Vide Bouteille Primary School.
LONG STANDING ALLIES
Venezuela and Saint Lucia have been long-standing allies, sharing diplomatic relations since Saint Lucia gained independence. Saint Lucia is a beneficiary of substantial aid from Venezuela. Of late Venezuela has supported the Government’s short term job-creation programme, NICE, and the construction of a number of bridges. Additionally, Prime Minister Anthony recently announced a major injection of a further EC$25 million through ALBA to be focused on social housing interventions.
The public is encouraged to take this opportunity to visit this working tall ship which has won many awards since its start of operation in 1980 and show genuine Saint Lucian hospitality during their short stay on our beautiful island.