PM: Venezuela situation ‘untenable’

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, is looking forward to a discussion on Venezuela with his Caricom colleagues.

The 37th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting will be held in Georgetown, Guyana from 4 – 6 July, 2016.

Chastanet told the Times that the situation in Venezuela is ‘untenable’.

“Clearly there becomes a critical issue here between democracy and human rights and where does that line become drawn,” he said.

The Saint Lucia Prime Minister noted that on one hand, the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is downplaying his country’s economic crisis, while others assert that it has reached crisis proportions.

“I am very interested to hear what my colleagues in Caricom have to say,” Chastanet told the Times.

He declared that the good news for Saint Lucia is that when the United Workers Party (UWP), which he now leads, was in office in 2006, it decided not to take part in Petrocaribe.

Chastanet recalled that when the UWP lost the general elections in 2011, the victorious Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), attempted to engage in Petrocaribe and was unsuccessful.

As a result, the Saint Lucia leader asserted that this country is in the “enviable” situation of not owing Venezuela any money.

“The funds we received have been primarily through ALBA and the majority have been grant funds,” Chastanet observed.

However he stated that it does not take away from the crisis now taking place in Venezuela.

Chastanet felt that countries like Guyana and others in close proximity to Venezuela would obviously be concerned about the likelihood of a refugee problem being triggered by the situation in the Spanish-speaking country.

He told the Times he wanted to sit and discuss such matters with other Caribbean countries which have participated in Petrocaribe, before commenting further.

Chastanet described those countries as having a longer standing and intimate relationship with Venezuela.

He observed that  the Caribbean has voted in unity in respect of supporting Venezuela.

“Whether that will be sustainable now that more evidence is coming on I don’t know. I just want to be able to share the information we have  with my other colleagues, but certainly Saint Lucia will not be tied into going down the road just because  everybody is going down. We would have to be convinced there is a rationale behind our coordinated approach,” Chastanet told the Times.