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Ralph Gonsalves Maduro

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, left, and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in talk in Caracas Monday night, April 26, 2022. (Photo: Nicolas Maduro/Twitter)

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Venezuela has agreed to cancel St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ debt under PetroCaribe, its oil initiative with Latin American and Caribbean nations.

This could see the national debt fall by 9%, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Tuesday on his return from Caracas, where he spent 10 days after falling ill on Holy Thursday, April 14.

He further said that Caracas will half the debt of the other Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States countries that are members of PetroCaribe, which will be reset to offer fuel at 35% discount to participating countries.

Gonsalves said he met on Monday with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, who also pledged homes for people affected by last year’s volcanic eruption as well as fertiliser for farmers.

The prime minister spoke at a ceremony at Argyle International Airport to welcome back Conviasa, Venezuela’s national carrier, which is resuming weekly flights to St. Vincent.

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Gonsalves travelled on Tuesday’s flight from Caracas.

He said that in Venezuela, he spent four days in hospital, during which he held meetings with the country’s vice-president, Delcy Rodriguez and Raul Li Causi, president of the ALBA Bank and vice-minister for the Caribbean.

He said that after leaving the hospital, he met with several other people, including Rodriguez and Li Causi.

The prime minister said that because of the nature of the discussions, he summoned Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, his son, to join the talks in Caracas.

Camillo, who is Minister of Finance in his father’s government, was in Washington at the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The prime minister said Camillo arrived in Caracas on Saturday morning and they had a number of meetings together, including with the ALBA Bank.

The prime minister said there were a number of detailed technical meetings in which Camillo had to participate, concluding Monday night with talks with Maduro.

“I outlined in Caracas not only the impact of COVID but also the terrible socio-economic impact of the volcanic eruptions last year followed by Hurricane Elsa, that President Maduro agreed to give 100% debt relief of our PetroCaribe debt.”

He said Kingstown and Caracas are tallying the precise size of the debt.

“It may be up to US$70 million, meaning EC$189 million,” Gonsalves said, adding that this amounts to 8- 9% of the national debt of SVG.

“That act of solidarity by Nicolas Maduro will long be remembered by the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

He said Venezuela also agreed to reduce by 50% the debt of the other OECS countries that are members of PetroCaribe.

“And this is a country that is under illegal universal sanctions by great powers. And that makes that act of solitary all the more touching and meaningful and we must recognise that across this entire Caribbean and the world.”

The prime minister said there would also be “a revival of PetroCaribe, which has been brought to a screeching halt effectively by certain sanctions.

“And that revival will see a discount with the participating countries in PetroCaribe of 35% of the price of fuel. And that is going to mean relief for the persons who consume electricity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a context in which the price of fuel is rising sharply since COVID and since the military activities in Ukraine.”

He said he had explained to Maduro the hardships that farmers are enduring with the increased price of fertiliser and urea.

“They do not have the fertiliser but they have the urea and they will provide, on a monthly basis, to us free shipments of urea. And for the roads that have been damaged by La Soufriere and by bad weather, he has agreed to provide us also free asphalt.

“And when I told him that there are some persons still without their houses being properly repaired and some which we are building and we haven’t rebuilt all the houses which are damaged or destroyed because of the volcano, he has undertaken to deliver to us up to 150 pre-fabricated houses to help the people in North Windward and North Leeward.”

Gonsalves said Maduro had asked him to tell the Garifuna and Calinago people that he very much loves the indigenous people who have suffered because of the volcanic eruption.

Gonsalves said:

“So, my dear brother, Canon Ashton, you see what I mean when I said on the night of Holy Thursday, I felt a terrible pain in my side and I had to go to the hospital here on Good Friday to do all the tests and when the doctors say I must go on to Cuba or Venezuela to do my usual check-up, you understand the meaning, and I understand it: the Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

“And I want the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to know, and especially those who have suffered from the volcano and all those who have had their lives disrupted by COVID that what is in your mind and in your heart but not in your mouth, the Good Lord has given me the words to express what is in your heart and in your mind, to your benefit and to God’s glory.”

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12 replies on “Venezuela cancels SVG’s PetroCaribe debt; promises homes, asphalt, fertiliser — PM says”

  1. Dr Kingsley Simmons says:

    Quite a quick recovery given the “presumed” seriousness of an emergency attack of “only God knows”.

  2. Are the weekly flights being subsidized by our government? If so, it’s giving in one hand and receiving in the other.

  3. I am all for the help the people of SVG can get at this time, but when it is help from a country whose people are worse off than vincentians you have to ask, what are we giving them in return? Nothing is free in this world and I mean nothing, someone always has to pay the price.

  4. Today I saw on TV that In Texas wind power has replaced coal and other resources that provide electricity to the state.
    I have long opined that SVG can use the windward corridor where it’s always windy to provide SVG with all the electricity the population needs.
    This is a safer and more reliable system than trying to build anything close to the volcano to obtain electricity. SVG has been experiencing many volcano hick-ups and anything close to the volcano can be completely destroyed.
    If Ralph doesn’t want to do so, then the NDP should start looking very closely at this system. It reduces the debt paid to Venezuela for gas. Then there is the advent of car, trucks, end other vehicles being built to use engines powered by batteries.
    Hence the dependency on oils is on its way out. This is the right time to look very closely a Solar and Wind power for the island.

  5. Me too wan no if these plane flights are subsidised by our government and if all the gifts of debt forgiveness an so on is really free. Sambady shud keep a close eye on what they bringing in and what they taking out. Some how all this seems to convenient. PM has a way with twisting everything to mek ULP look good nex thing u no is martial law and socialism Cuba style.

  6. Colin Rodger says:

    Wow!! In bed now with a rogue narco-trafficker whose people are impoverished. Words fail me now!!

  7. Elinor Daisy says:

    Why is Ralph accepting anything from Maduro, an oppressor whose political policies result in starving — literally! — Venezuelans? Typical of all socialist and communist dictators, Maduro appears to have plenty of food for himself. Ditto Ralph.

  8. Nathen Green says:

    Look at the bandage, surely that is never a professionally applied bandage, is this a sham?

  9. Nathen Green says:

    It is obscene to take from the Venezuelans while people there are short of food and toilet paper. People disappear for speaking out. It is not an achievement to ponce from the poor at the expense of the Venezuelan citizens. I think you will find an early election is about to be called and this is a pre-election bragging tool to be used by the ULP.

  10. It’s just over 3 years to election , do your thing world boss because you are on your last leg, you cannot fool all the people all the time, you may fool some five star general

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