JCC questions country's stance against Venezuela
The Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) says it is mystified by two major decisions made by the Andrew Holness administration against Venezuela.
In a press release yesterday, the JCC said it was concerned that the current administration has taken steps to forcibly acquire the Venezuelan government's 49 per cent shares in Petrojam and has voted at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) not to recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's presidency.
"Those actions/decisions have left us puzzled and in search of the sustainable underlying principles and rationale that informed them," declared the group representing several denominations across the country.
According to the JCC, it notes, with a measure of discomfort, recent developments in the relationship between the Jamaican Government and the government of Venezuela.
"We recall the strong historic links we have shared with that nation and expressions of friendship it has extended to us repeatedly, over time, most notably when we faced serious economic challenges from the rise in global oil prices," the JCC said, adding that the South American country came to Jamaica's rescue with generous terms under the San JosÈ Accord. This assistance, the JCC added, aided in stabilising the country's economy and allowed for major development projects through a long-term facility.
"Now that Venezuela is facing a major economic, social and political crisis, our apparent hard-nosed policy towards that nation appears to lack any sense of reciprocity and an abandonment of a relationship with a friendly nation in its time of need," the release continued.
The powerful group described as "problematic" an explanation given by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith that the Government's action was driven purely by economic reasons.
"We are willing to believe that there were other equally compelling reasons and strenuous efforts made to avoid this route, since we certainly would not want to be sending a message to our growing nation that friendships/relationships are easily dispensable in the face of money," said the church group.
The JCC reminded the administration that it said in recent times that Jamaica did not intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. It argued that the vote cast by Jamaica at the OAS appeared to have done just that.
The council said it was fully aware of the geo-political powers and dynamics in the life of the OAS, as well as the humanitarian, social and political issues gripping Venezuela, at this time.
"However, we would welcome more transparency, openness and forthrightness so we, and many other Jamaicans, can understand the direction in which our foreign policy is heading," the release stated.