Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet has asserted that for Saint Lucia and some of the countries of the Southern Caribbean, the current situation in Venezuela is creating a security problem.
“There seems to be an increase in money laundering, drug trafficking, arms – and this is a concern that we have,” Chastanet told reporters Monday during a pre-cabinet interview.
He explained that from the standpoint of democracy and human rights, Saint Lucia would like to see the situation in Venezuela settled.
The Prime Minister expressed the view that the Venezuelans themselves should come up with that settlement.
However he noted that as the problem continues unabated and seems to be deteriorating, the threat of security becomes even greater.
“There needs to be some involvement now,” Chastanet observed.
“There is a group of three ex-presidents as well as the Vatican – we are encouraging both the opposition and also the government to meet and continue the dialogue that had begun,” he stated.
“Clearly the opposition has indicated that they would like to see its leader freed from jail and some of the political prisoners freed from jail before they re-commence conversation and I think that is the attempt being made here,” the Prime Minister told reporters.
Chastanet raised the question of what qualifies as ‘interference.’
“Is it left by itself to resolve or do we believe that we have to have outside influence?” He asked.
According to the Prime Minister,’unfortunately’ some of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states which have benefitted from PETROCARIBE and ALBA, may not be perceived as ‘neutral arbitrators’ by the opposition.
Chastanet declared that as a result, it would be difficult to find people who would be acceptable to both sides in Venezuela.
“It is a very difficult situation and one in which Saint Lucia is not playing a lead role visibly,” he said.
However Chastanet told reporters that Saint Lucia’s Ambassador in Washington has been trying to bridge the gap.
Nevertheless he observed that there are differing view within CARICOM with some believing that there should be absolutely no interference, while others believe there have been some egregious actions taken by the current government that need to be resolved.
” Saint Lucia clearly sides with democracy. We believe that closing down of the the congress was wrong and the assembly and would like to see that reinstated,” the Prime Minister told reporters.
He noted that there are people calling for elections in Venezuela – a matter which Chastanet felt has to be determined internally.