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Opposition leader Allen Chastanet, asserting that Venezuela is a ‘failed state,’ has criticised the Saint Lucia government’s failure to speak out against President Nicolas Maduro amid the border controversy with Guyana.
Venezuela claims Guyana’s resource-rich Essequibo region, comprising more than two-thirds of the country’s territory.
Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has yet to make a final ruling on the issue, and urged maintaining the status quo, Venezuela held a referendum recently in which voters supported annexing the disputed territory.
“Venezuela is wrong,” Allen Chastanet told reporters on the margins of a sitting of the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
“There’s an ongoing court case. You cannot all of a sudden unilaterally decide that you are going to take over a piece of land while you are still in court,” the former Prime Minister declared.
“This government wants to say, ‘Maduro is my friend’?” Chastanet said.
“I would have thought when the government of Saint Lucia went down to Venezuela a couple of weeks ago, they actually would have gone by boat and brought food with them to help out the people in Venezuela,” the United Workers Party (UWP) leader stated.
“Venezuela is a disaster when it comes to its economy. It is a complete failed state, and for this government to be standing in support of Venezuela at this particular moment, especially when a sister country like Guyana and we have so many Guyanese who have made their living here in Saint Lucia and exposing them and exposing us is absolutely insane,” Chastanet said.
He also indicated that Venezuela made an empty promise to supply Saint Lucia with bitumen for road repairs during Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre’s official state visit.
“It never existed. You are going to go down to Venezuela and Venezuela is going to promise you bitumen? They can’t export anything. There’s no currency. There’s no government. It’s shameful. It tells you the level of desperation this government must have to go down to Venezuela and get help from Venezuela,” Chastanet said.
He also noted that the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela would meet in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday.
However, the UWP leader questioned what the gathering would achieve.
“A meeting to discuss what?” Chastanet told reporters.
He added that he agreed with former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Guyana-born Sir Shridath Ramphal.
Ramphal has warned against false expectations, emphasising the need to understand the limit of Thursday’s talks.
The former Commonwealth Secretary-General observed that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were aware that the Guyana-Venezuela matter was before the ICJ, the proceedings of which could not be compromised.
In addition, Guyana’s President has, on numerous occasions, made it clear that the border case before the ICJ will not be an issue for bilateral discussions.