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Declare your position on Venezuela, Golding urges Holness gov't

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Mark Golding
Johnson Smith

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Mark Golding has called on the Andrew Holness administration to make a clear pronouncement on whether it supports the democratically elected government of Venezuela, even as pressure mounts and calls grow louder in the South American country for President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

"It saddens me to think that the Government of Jamaica could now be on the defensive, so to speak, trying to justify statements that are in the public domain suggestive of a lack of support for the Venezuelan Government that has been so very generous to the people of Jamaica, especially the poor and dispossessed people of our country," Golding commented while responding to a statement from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith in the Upper House yesterday.

In her statement, Johnson Smith made it clear that Jamaica did not support the "unauthorised and adverse utterances" of the secretary-general of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro on the situation in Venezuela and in relation to the government.

Almagro, in his comments, suggested that targeted sanctions should be imposed on Venezuela to increase pressure on the regime to restore the constitutional order and hold elections. He indicated that Venezuela deserved a legitimate government.


Legitimate administration


According to Johnson Smith, Almagro's utterances have not been helpful in achieving a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Golding argued that the parliamentary Opposition is of the view that the Venezuelan government is a legitimate administration which was elected by the people of that country. He said that until there is a change, the Opposition will not support any attempt to undermine the Venezuelan Government.

Golding urged the Jamaican Government to "avoid nice sounding but vague diplomatic speech", but to be definitive and clear on its position in relation to Venezuela.

Johnson Smith in Washington next week; discussing Venezuela

Opposition senator Mark Golding wants to know if the Jamaican Government still believes that the Organisation of American States (OAS) can be a broker for a peaceful resolution in Venezuela given the alleged partisan position taken by OAS Secretary-general Louis Almagro.

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, in her response, said that Jamaica believes that the OAS is bigger than the secretary-general.

Johnson Smith told her colleagues in the Senate that she would be attending a consultative meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, DC, next Wednesday to consider options available to assist in the resolution of Venezuela's grave challenges.

There has been a wave of anti-government protests since April, and dozens of people have been killed in protest-related violence.