Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Don’t forget Venezuela’s kindness

Published:Saturday | January 18, 2020 | 12:35 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness re Mike Pompeo’s visit

I note from media reports that the US secretary of state will be visiting Jamaica for two days to discuss the Middle East Crisis and issues relating to Venezuela, and this has aroused my curiosity.

Discussion of the Middle East crisis can only be casual, as we have neither the manpower nor financial resources to support American adventurism in the Middle East and neither do we wish to be implicated in any way with other people’s quarrels.

Now Venezuela is another matter. The Venezuelan people are suffering under the yolk of economic sanctions imposed on them by the United States.

We Jamaicans have to remember how we benefited in the heyday when Venezuela was awash with oil revenues.

n In the 1970s to 1980s, we benefited from the Venezuelan Investment Fund, which financed several development projects through the UDC.

n In the 1990s, the dormitory township of Greater Portmore was developed by Venezuelan soft loan funds, significantly improving Jamaican housing stock by providing reasonable lower and middle-income housing.

n In recent years when high oil prices placed undue pressure on the Jamaican economy, the Venezuelans provided resources to establish the PetroCaribe Development Fund.

n This eased foreign exchange pressures and provided investment resourced to fund:

- Alternative sources of energy

- Upgrading of social and physical infrastructure

- refinancing of the public debt

- Supporting human capital development

- North South Link to Highway 2000

- School sanitation projects

- Public transportation support

- Markets in downtown Kingston

- Falmouth Pier

- Development of BPO sector

- Houses for vulnerable persons plus sundry other projects.

In light of the foregoing assistance, we cannot bite the hand that helped us when we required concessionary funding to cover some of our development needs.

We cannot forget the Venezuelan kindness in sharing their resources with us, so please remember we should not be a party to monied interest desirous of plundering Venezuela’s oil wealth.

SUSAN FAIRCLOUGH