Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Reprehensible! Hanna blasts gov't over OAS vote

Published:Saturday | January 12, 2019 | 10:44 AM
Hanna...this is reprehensible conduct on the part of the Jamaican Government

The parliamentary Opposition has charged that the “hastily announced” plan by the Andrew Holness administration to use legislation to take over Venezuela’s stake in Petrojam “before exhausting all avenues of mediation and arbitration” was connected to a decision made earlier not to recognise the legitimacy of Nicholas Maduro’s second term as Venezuelan President.

“This is reprehensible conduct on the part of the Jamaican Government, especially given the deep historical friendship and association between both countries for more than 40 years,” said Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna. 

On Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith announced that the government plans to enact special legislation to reclaim Venezuela’s 49 per cent stake in Petrojam.

Johnson Smith explained that the Venezuelan Government has failed to honour its commitment to upgrade the west Kingston-based oil refinery.

Two days after her announcement, Jamaica voted, along with 18 other member countries of the Organisation of American States, not to recognise the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term.

Hanna acknowledging that there may be clear differences with aspects of the internal arrangements in Venezuela, but says Jamaica’s vote departed from the traditional principles on which the nation has relied for decades.

As a result, Hanna says this has brought Jamaica’s image in the international community into “disgrace.”

“Jamaica has always stood firm on principles in forging its international diplomatic relationships. Central to these principles has been a commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of all nations and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” she asserted.

Through this approach, she says, Jamaica has been able to build a wide ranging set of relationships and alliances which, among other things, has made us a central player in the movement of non-aligned states.

“We are friends of many and the enemy of none”, she emphasised.

“Throughout our history and even until today, Jamaica, as an independent country, has maintained wide ranging relationships with diverse countries with differing political systems, ideologies and electoral arrangements,” Hanna noted.

Maintaining these relationships, she pointed out, has never meant validation of the particular policies or internal political arrangements of the various countries.

The Opposition spokesperson said it is undeniable that Venezuela has been a “helpful friend to Jamaica.”

“The country can recall that when the price of oil was prohibitively high, Venezuela extended a helpful hand through PetroCaribe,” she said of the oil purchasing agreement between the two countries.

“This is certainly not the way to treat the people or government that has been a hemispheric partner for Jamaica through PetroCaribe, the debt buy-back, through periods of national disaster,” Hanna said.

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