ALBA: Who’s bending the truth?

Less than a week after he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Kenny Anthony was on his way to Venezuela to join other Caribbean and Latin American leaders for a special meeting to form the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC. The group according to reports is the brainchild of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and according to the Miami Herald it would “blunt US influence in the region and replace the Organization of American States, the only group that’s opened to all countries in the hemisphere.”
When he returned from his trip the Prime Minister told the nation it was important for Saint Lucia to renew its ties with Venezuela. The St Lucia Labour Party government under the leadership of Kenny Anthony has long been a close ally of Venezuela. In fact months before the Labour Party lost the 2006 general elections the country was well on its way to being signed to the PetroCaribe agreement between Venezuela and other CARICOM member-states. Dr Anthony has made no secret of the fact that he believes it would be in Saint Lucia’s interest to enter into such an agreement.
But where does he stand with other issues when it comes to Venezuela and other Latin American countries? This week just as he returned from Caracas the Prime Minister had to deal with reports that Saint Lucia and Suriname were seeking membership of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA).  The Prime Minister attended ALBA’s 11TH Summit in Venezuela but said reports Saint Lucia had applied to join the grouping were false.
According to caribbeantrakker.com Dr Anthony made it clear at the summit that while St Lucia would engage in discussions with a view to determine whether it would establish ties with ALBA, joining the organisation was not possible at this time.
“I explained that the process cannot commence due to political and constitutional considerations, and by that I meant that our Cabinet of Ministers would first have to consider the implications of joining ALBA,” Dr Anthony was quoted as saying.
The website report goes on: “The Prime Minister noted that countries like St Lucia are facing the harsh reality of declining aid sources and stressed that the island had very few friends in a difficult and complex world and it must now search for alternative funds for development purposes.”
Quoting Dr Anthony directly it stated: “It is going to be critical and crucial that St Lucia look for new opportunities of support and in particular for Governments who are willing to assist the development of the country
. . . So we have to be busy, we have to search for new sources of funding and it is in that context that we have to look at organisations like ALBA as an option . . . But as of now we are not members and cannot be members until such time that our Cabinet of Ministers has made the determination.”
A Miami Herald article published on Sunday, however, stated that: “During the presidential summit, the leaders of Suriname and St Lucia said they would seek formal inclusion into the bloc.”
The grouping which is watched closely by the US is known for its left leaning stances and controversial decisions. According to the Miami Herald report “the eight-member group pushed plans to launch its own regional bank and expand the use of the virtual currency, the sucre, to promote dollar-free trade between the nations.”
The news report also said that on Sunday, “the alliance came out in support of the Syrian government, blasted England for its ‘imperialist’ intentions against Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands, and ratified a statement asking for Puerto Rican independence.”
With such controversial decisions one wonders whether St Lucia can afford the repercussions that may come from joining ALBA. And have we in fact already said to Venezuela that we intend to join?
What about the recent decisions made by ALBA? Is St Lucia in agreement with where the grouping stands on the Falkland islands? What about ALBA’s support for the Syrian government? And, also why would St Lucia want to join a group that would require US citizens to get visas to visit their territories? How damaging would tat be to our tourism industry? There is no doubt the Prime Minister needs to make a clear statement as to where St Lucia stands on these issues and the effect it could have on our relationship with our other allies.k and expand the use of the virtual currency, the sucre, to promote dollar-free trade between the nations.”
The news report also said that on Sunday, “the alliance came out in support of the Syrian government, blasted England for its ‘imperialist’ intentions against Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands, and ratified a statement asking for Puerto Rican independence.”
With such controversial decisions one wonders whether St Lucia can afford the repercussions that may come from joining ALBA. And have we in fact already said to Venezuela that we intend to join?
What about the recent decisions made by ALBA? Is St Lucia in agreement with where the grouping stands on the Falkland islands? What about ALBA’s support for the Syrian government? And, also why would St Lucia want to join a group that would require US citizens to get visas to visit their territories? How damaging would tat be to our tourism industry? There is no doubt the Prime Minister needs to make a clear statement as to where St Lucia stands on these issues and the effect it could have on our relationship with our other allies.

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