Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Venezuela working to restore peace, says Charge d'Affaires

Published:Wednesday | August 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Charge D'Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Jamaica Luisa Gutierrez.

Mineral-rich Venezuela has some ways to go before returning to any semblance of unity, noted Charg d'Affaires Luisa Gutierrez, even as she explained that her country's government and the people are working to achieve just that.

"We continue to do all we can to achieve unity and a better Venezuela," she said.

The South American nation has been at the centre of a deadly internal upheaval, where it is estimated that approximately 43 people have been killed since April, as opposition supporters push for political change, with policies of the late Hugo Chavez still being the fulcrum of development under the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

Gutierrez, who was the keynote speaker at a luncheon meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kingston on Monday, acknowledged that the ongoing situation has caused differing views in countries of the region, but insisted it has not sidelined her country.

"Venezuela still has favourable relationships with several countries through bilateral arrangements, in spite of the challenges in my country," said Gutierrez.

Matters were made worse recently with the holding of elections for the 545-member National Constituent Assembly in July and since then, the Maduro-led government has been taken to task by the United States (US) and leaders of other countries and regional bodies, for trying to trample on the rights of the opposition.

The US was quick to lambast the decision to hold elections for the new assembly, which said it was "designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination".

Over eight million Venezuelans voted in the elections, which, Gutierrez said, showed the democratic will of the people, who still hold dear to the Bolivarian principles.

"In the meantime, we still have a way to go before we unite in peace. It is the wish of the leadership and people of Venezuela to have peace. The Bolivarian principle is important to the people," she told The Gleaner.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com