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Hanna: Vote against Maduro brings Ja's image into disgrace

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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THE People's National Party has accused the Government of bringing into disgrace Jamaica's image in the international community, following its vote on Thursday to not recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's second term as president of Venezuela.

Jamaica voted with 18 other members of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in favour of the resolution, while six voted against, and eight abstained. One member country was absent.

In a release yesterday, Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna said Jamaica's vote departed from the traditional principles on which the nation has relied for decades.

Hanna said Jamaica has always stood firm on principles in forging its international diplomatic relationships. Central to these principles, she said, has been a commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of all nations and the peaceful resolution of disputes. As a consequence, she said Jamaica has been able to build a wide-ranging set of relationships and alliances which, among other things, has made the country a central player in the movement of non-aligned states.

“We are friends of many and the enemy of none,” Hanna is quoted as saying in the release.

According to the Opposition spokesperson, Jamaica, as an independent country, has always maintained wide- ranging relationships with diverse countries with differing political systems, ideologies and electoral arrangements.

“Jamaica has always shown assertive, courageous and enlightened leadership in our foreign policy and diplomacy. As a result, we have developed an enviable reputation of courage and activism in the international arena. Our consistent approach in taking decisions on the basis of principle has served us well, earning Jamaica respect in matters of foreign diplomacy. Our views have been highly sought by our allies,” Hanna continued.

The vote by the government of Jamaica to withdraw recognition of Venezuela at the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) is a complete reversal of Jamaica's policy towards the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a policy that was sustained by both People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party administrations, she insisted.

Hanna claimed that on the face of it, it now appears that the decision of the Government of Jamaica to “hastily announce the seizure by legislation of the Venezuelan-owned shares in Petrojam before exhausting all avenues for mediation and arbitration as provided for in the Stakeholders' Agreement was connected to the Government's prior decision to withdraw recognition of the Venezuelan Government”.

“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,” she said.

Hanna said while there may be a clear difference with aspects of policy or internal arrangements in Venezuela, “it is undeniable that they have 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. It is also noteworthy that in various periods of natural disasters, they have come to the assistance of the Jamaican people, so the People's National Party believes they deserve to be treated with respect and honour,“ Hanna continued.

“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,” she said.

Hanna pointed out, too, that the position of PNP is that disputes between countries and different political factions should be resolved through peaceful means.

“We remind that the party had urged Caricom (Caribbean Community) to use its good offices to bring about a resolution to the Venezuelan dispute. By its action [Thursday], Jamaica would have forfeited the possibility of acting as an honest broker. Instead, the Government seems intent on joining others in their hostile attitude towards a country and government which has extended goodwill to us,” she said.


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