Opposition leader saddened by Venezuela crisis

Opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre, asserting that he was saddened by events in Venezuela, feels there should be more of a coordinated regional response to the current crisis in that country.

However Pierre noted that there have been several changes of government in the Caribbean, including here in Saint Lucia.

Pierre’s Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), lost the June 6, 2016 general elections to the United Workers Party (UWP).

The opposition leader recalled that while in opposition the UWP questioned aspects of the then labour administration’s relationship with Venezuela.

“I don’t know how coordinated that approach can be because there have been changes,” the opposition leader told the Times.

Pierre said Venezuela has been a good friend to Saint Lucia, having done a lot for this country.

He noted ALBA funds had been used to build bridges here while Saint Lucian students were facilitated with study opportunities in Venezuela.

Pierre disclosed that prior to the June 6, 2016 general elections, the labour cabinet took a decision to bring the local students back home.

Twenty-two students who were studying in Venezuela are back here as a result.

“We are very sympathetic towards the situation in Venezuela and we hope that there is a resolution to the crisis,” Pierre explained.

Questioned about fears in relation to a possible refugee crisis that could be brought on by an exodus of Venezuelan nationals fleeing their country, Pierre felt that Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, which are closer to Venezuela could be affected.

However he said that the extent of such a problem is yet to be seen.

Venezuela has been plagued by severe food shortages, riots in the streets, and exploding inflation.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), has blamed President Nicolás Maduro’s government for the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Luis Almagro, addressing the permanent council of the 34-nation regional group, said Maduro’s government had violated basic democratic principles, which had altered the constitutional order of the country.