Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has defended his decision to make an official visit to Ecuador, saying that the country is emerging as one of the progressive lights in Latin America
He noted that the United States and the European Union have relations with Ecuador, and criticised Vincentians who seem to think that if he wants to ask Quito for something, he should make a telephone call.
Gonsalves earlier this month led a five-member delegation on a official visit to Ecuador.
The other members of the delegation were Gonsalves’ wife, Eloise Gonsalves, his private secretary Angie Williams Jackson, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, Kingstown’s ambassador to Venezuela Andreas Wickham, and Gareth Bynoe of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Gonsalves said St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Ecuador began developing strong ties after President Raphael Corea came to office in 2007.
He said that before then, what SVG knew of Ecuador was that Quito and Washington were trying to subvert the region’s banana regime.
The United States was asking for the reduction of preferences to the point of elimination, where we are now, Gonsalves said.
He, however, said that the nation cannot say that it will not have relations with Ecuador because Washington fought the region on the banana matter.
In a modern sets of relationships, you see what benefits can come to your country from certain relationship, Gonsalves said.
He noted that Ecuador will build four Bailey bridges to replace bridges destroyed in North Leeward during the extreme weather last December.
“Now this is a tremendous gift,” Gonsalves said, noting that the bridges will cost US4.3 million.
A team from Ecuador was expected to arrive in St. Vincent last week for a 10-day visit, with September as the targeted commencement for re-construction of the bridges.
Gonsalves said that even if the trip to Ecuador were considered in financial terms, it would have been worth it.
He said his government paid for delegation to travel to and from Trinidad and Corea provided a jet for travel between Trinidad and Ecuador.
Critics of the trip are driven by ignorance, malice, or political stupidity, and nit-pick about who the Prime Minister has on the delegation, Gonsalves said.
He said that he decides who should comprise an official delegation. And while people can advise, that advice must be well informed, Gonsalves further said, adding that when he speaks like that, people get offended.
He said he saw and heard comments that the trip was a joyride and cost the country a lot of money.
Persons must stop this kind of behaviour, Gonsalves said, adding that administrators of website must “lock down” such discussions.