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St. Vincent and the Grenadines Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, has accused CARICOM of “hypocrisy” in its response to the political situations in St. Kitts and Nevis and Venezuela.
A number of protesters, many of them students, have died as large protests have broken out in Venezuela against the Nicolas Maduro government’s handling of the country’s affairs.
CARICOM, which is chaired by Vincentian Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, issued a statement on Tuesday, calling for “respect for the democratically elected Government” of Venezuela.
Gonsalves also said on Tuesday that his government supports the Maduro administration and spoke against what he described as “attempts to destabilize a government which has been duly elected”.
But at a press conference on Wednesday, Eustace accused CARICOM of being hypocritical, saying that the regional bloc has remained “deafeningly silent” even as a motion of no confidence against the Denzil Douglas Government in Bassterre has not been debated for more than a year.
Six of the 11 MPs in St. Kitts and Nevis say they no longer support Douglas as prime minister.
“What I find most disheartening, is the deafening silence of the other CARICOM governments who appear to wish that this situation in St. Kitts did not exist,” Eustace said.
He said Gonsalves and his colleagues “should hang their heads in shame for condoning this unacceptable state of affairs.
“CARICOM ignores the situation in St. Kitts but makes a firm statement in support of Maduro in Venezuela indicating ‘that no democratic society can reasonably pursue disorder or any unwanted subversion of democratic institutions.’
“Is this not what is taking place in St. Kitts? What hypocrisy!” said Eustace, noting that the St. Kitts and Nevis parliament is a democratic institution.
“Awake! Heads of Government, our region is dying because of your inaction,” said Eustace who has written to CARICOM heads about the saga in Basseterre.
Eustace said there was no question in his mind that “what is being done to the opposition in St. Kitts violates basic constitutional principles and violates democracy in that country.
“We should allow the process that has been undertaken to come to a conclusion. And they should not condone what is happening. The same way they have come quite off the bat to back Venezuela, they must do the same in St. Kitts in relation to the issue that St. Kitts faces,” said Eustace, a former prime minister.
“St. Kitts is ours,” he further said, noting the twin-island federation’s membership in the nine-member, sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the 15-member CARICOM.
“It’s our people. We wouldn’t want to see that happen in St. Vincent. We wouldn’t want to see that happen in St. Lucia or Trinidad or Dominica. Why the silence? What they are doing is wrong and all know it is wrong. So why the silence?” Eustace said.