Monday 19 August, 2019

KD raises concern about Gov't silence on crisis in Venezuela

Opposition Senator K.D. Knight has warned that there could be serious destabilisation of the Caribbean region as a result of the deepening crisis in Venezuela.

At the same time Knight has described as “troubling”, what he said is the continued silence of the Andrew Holness-led government on the unfolding crisis in the South American country.

Knight made the assertion while speaking in the Senate on Friday. He pointed out that he had, two weeks earlier, asked the leader of government business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, to state Jamaica’s position on Venezuela. At the time, Senator Johnson Smith noted that the situation was unfolding and was being evaluated and she promised an update for the following week.

However, she was not in the Senate last week and she was again absent on Friday.

In Johnson Smith’s absence, Senator Ruel Reid who deputised for her on Friday said he had discussed the issue with the Senate leader earlier in the day. However, his answer did not find favour with Knight.

“Unfortunately we’re not in a position (to make a statement) just yet …we’re still, as was expressed last week, still evaluating the matters so we expect that as soon as is possible a statement will be issued,” said Reid.

That response did not go down well with Knight.

“I hear what the acting leader is saying but some actions have been taken, some decisions have been made. So it is not that there is nothing to report to the parliament, it is that nothing is being reported,” Knight said.

And the veteran politician had a warning:

“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 become a country with Venezuelans seeking asylum status here.  We need to know, there has to be some preparation, the society must know, the country must know what is the position of the government,” said Knight.

 

The situation in Venezuela became more tense on Friday with media reports that the country’s self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido refused to rule out the possibility of authorizing United States intervention to help force President Nicolas Maduro from power and alleviate a humanitarian crisis.

The opposition leader launched a bid to oust Maduro last month, declaring himself interim president, a move recognized by the US and around 40 other countries, including 20 from the European Union.

Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-rich Venezuela's economy has collapsed leaving the country wracked by hyperinflation, recession and shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

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