Monday 17 June, 2019

St Lucia still Venezuela's friend despite views on illegitimate govt

Despite its insistence that the electoral process that saw Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela winning a second term in office (2019 – 2025) was illegitimate, and that his government, which took office last week, has no legitimacy, the Government of Saint Lucia will continue to maintain its friendship with the South American country.

External Minister Sarah Flood-Beaubrun today at a news conference said that Saint Lucia will not only continue to be friends but as Venezuela’s friend, it is obligated to point out to Venezuela the need to respect the principles of democracy.

“We know what free and fair elections look like in Saint Lucia and I am sure if a situation like that was to happen here, where the opposition could not speak freely, where the opposition could not participate in election, where opposition leaders were jailed, we would find that to be unacceptable. The people of Venezuela have been protesting against that. The process does not appear on the face of it to be fair because there is not free participation of the people and the opposition and from that point of view we regard the process as illegitimate,” Beaubrun said.

She added: “That is not to say we will not continue to be friends and have diplomatic relations with Venezuela, we will continue to do that. We continue to recognize Venezuela as a friend. We have called upon the government of Venezuela to recognize the principles of democracy,” Beaubrun said.

Beaubrun confirmed that at the moment Saint Lucia is not considering breaking diplomatic relations with Venezuela. She points to the long historical friendship between the two countries as something significant and one which should not be underestimated.

She said that calling on a friend to do what is right does not mean there is an intention to sever the friendship and that it also does not mean that you cannot continue to engage in matters of mutual interest.

“We are saying the situation is so bad that fundamental rules have been breached and they ought to be adhered to and we will continue to ask Venezuela to do that,” External Minister Flood-Beaubrun said.

The Lima Group is a 14 member group comprising mostly of Latin-American governments of which Saint Lucia is part of.

In its declaration on the electoral process in Venezuela the group said thus:

“We reiterate that the electoral process that took place in Venezuela on May 20, 2018, lacked legitimacy as it neither included the participation of all political actors in Venezuela, nor did it have the presence of independent international observers, not deed it comply with the necessary guarantees or international standards for a free, fair and transparent election. Accordingly, we do not recognize the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolas Maduro, or his regime, which commences on January 10, 2019.”

The Saint Lucia delegation at last week’s Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on the situation in Venezuela stated that “while Venezuela has long been a friend of Saint Lucia, we are at a loss for words for what we are witness to – a political, economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens us all…”

The Saint Lucian delegation also noted in its statement how disheartened it was that the rule of law and key elements relating to ensuring participatory democracy had been diminished in Venezuela adding that “to this terrible point where we are being forced to consider the legitimacy of the administration in Caracas.”

Meanwhile, the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party will tomorrow hold a press conference to discuss the government’s position as it relates to Venezuela.

The Venezuelan embassy here also plans to hold a news conference tomorrow as well, to present Venezuela’s position on the decisions taken by the Lima Group and the United States, which is not a member of Lima but which has also denounced the electoral process as unfair and the government of Maduro as illegitimate.

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