Tue | Feb 19, 2019

KD: Silence on Venezuela troubling

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2019 | 1:03 AM

Opposition Senator K.D. Knight yesterday ripped into the Holness administration over its failure to deliver on a promise to update Jamaicans on the Government’s stance on the civil unrest and diplomatic pressure unfolding in Venezuela.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith had, two weeks ago in the Senate, promised a comprehensive response to the crisis in the South American nation but told lawmakers at last week’s sitting that she was not in a position to do so, citing developments in the days leading up to the sitting.

Johnson Smith, who also serves as leader of government business in the Upper House, was unable to attend yesterday’s sitting because of a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister and was deputised by Senator Ruel Reid, who was pressed by Knight for a statement.

Citing that “the silence is troubling”, Knight also enquired if state minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Senator Pearnel Charles, could present the statement on behalf of Johnson Smith.”

NOTHING BEING REPORTED

However, Reid stated that the Government was still not in a position to issue a statement, much to the ire of Knight.

“It is not that there is nothing to report to the Parliament, it is that nothing is being reported,” declared the opposition senator.“ It is a matter of importance to this country and this region.

“The region could be under some threat. The region could be hearing about regime change. The region could be hearing about interference in domestic affairs in a particular country. So we need to know. Jamaica could possibly be a country where Venezuelans are seeking asylum status,” he continued.

In January, Jamaica sided with 18 other members of the Organization of American States in favour of a resolution not to recognise the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s second six-year term as Venezuela’s president. Kingston is also in the midst of forcibly reclaiming Caracas’ 49 per cent stake in Jamaica’s only oil refinery, Petrojam.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com