Hanna concerned about closure of Jamaica's embassy in Venezuela

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade, Lisa Hanna, says she has taken serious note of yesterday's statement from Portfolio Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith about the temporary closure of Jamaica's embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

The closure will take effect April 1.

“As we have previously stated publicly, we have been monitoring circumstances related to the operations of the embassy, both in the wider context of our diplomatic representation review, as well as in the particular circumstances of the mission in Caracas. The ministry, along with its embassy, have been experiencing significant challenges in the operations at the post for some time, and temporary closure is now the practical solution,” Johnson Smith said.

However, Hanna, found this latest move by the Government shocking, stating that it appears to halt diplomatic relations with Jamaica's long standing ally.

“Never before has Jamaica walked this road, not only are we eroding our longstanding traditions of remaining objective interlocutors, able to assist with a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Venezuela, but we are setting a dangerous precedent by doing what appears to be the bidding of other powers,”she said in a statement last evening.

The foreign affairs ministry said that during the period of closure of the embassy in Caracas, the management of Jamaica's relations with Venezuela will be undertaken from the ministry's headquarters in Kingston as they have largely been doing for some time.

But, Hanna contends that closing the embassy is leaving Jamaicans in Venezuela without access to assistance, which the embassy would normally provide.

“This sudden move on the eve of Prime Minister Holness' meeting with President Trump is reminiscent of the GOJ's announcement to expropriate PDVSA shares in Petrojam right before it voted in support of the USA resolution at the OAS not to recognise the [Nicolas] Maduro Administration,” she continued.

The Opposition spokesperson said her party has serious concerns for the rights of the people of Venezuela, and want to see a brighter future for a country which has been our friend during very difficult times.

“We cannot just pack up and walk away from them now just because others may be pressuring us to do so. We must maintain our reputation as a country of principle and not a country with our hands out to be treated as mendicants at the will of the more powerful. Our rights and privileges as a sovereign democratic nation are not for sale, or to be determined in foreign capitals, but right here in our land; right here in Jamaica,” Hanna said.

She further stated that for the Government to truly play a role in helping the people of Venezuela especially during this time, it must keep the embassy open and therefore should be wise and reconsider their decision so as not to create long-lasting negative effects on Jamaica's previously stellar international image.


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