A COUPLE of issues this week are worth observation.
The first is the not-unexpected US vote at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday against the resolution calling for lifting of the crippling US embargo against Cuba, reversing last year’s unprecedented abstention by the Obama administration in the annual vote on the over 55-year-old punitive US action.
On his campaign trail, Donald Trump threatened to close the Obama openings to Cuba; and since taking office has been dismantling them piece by piece.
Months ahead of the UN meeting, he decided to blame Cuba for unexplained alleged “sonic boom” attacks on US diplomats that sounded more like science fiction than fact.
Like with the alleged Russian “interference” in the last US Presidential election, not even the best in the top seven US national security and intelligence agencies have been able to prove the supersonic allegation.
Interestingly, the UN vote came at just about the same time as declassified US files again confirm that it is the US that has been in the business of (hundreds of times) trying to poison President Fidel Castro to death, conducting biological warfare against Cuba — even planning bombing campaigns in the USA and to sink boats carrying Cubans trying to get to the USA by sea, all to wrongly blame Cuba.
This latest UN vote result again confirms that the US has no support anywhere for maintaining the trillion-dollar blockade that hurts ten million Cubans and especially punishes the island’s sick.
Cuba has successfully fought the embargo since 1961 and the revolution has survived every US president since 1959 – and with continuing world backing today, embargo or not, it will continue to survive, whether or not another Obama replaces Trump.
The second matter is the indication by the Saint Lucia Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister that the government is in contact with a group of Latin American states, led by Peru, in relation to Venezuela.
The Peru Group is a back-stopper minority South American group Washington has been able to muster to fly the US flag against Venezuela outside of the OAS.
Without making any specific allegations or identifying any particular instances, she was quite clear in her intimation to the world to keep its eyes on Venezuela, due to unspecified concerns it may be breaking its own laws or violating international democratic conventions.
One of the Peru Group’s main claims is an echo of Washington’s claim that Venezuela’s ruling PSUV has been manipulating polls to win elections. But nothing can be further than fact.
Truth is, following a recent monitoring of a presidential poll in Venezuela with his Carter Center, no less than ex-US President Jimmy Carter told the world press that Venezuela’s electoral system is “the best in the world.”
The PSUV has won 19 of the last 21 national elections in Venezuela in the past 18 years. Its first loss was in a referendum under Chavez and its biggest was in December 2015, when it lost control of the National Assembly for the first time.
The opposition moved from attending to parliamentary affairs in the National Assembly to a policy of forcible political castration of the President by blocking all his executive decisions, leading to the government using the nation’s constitution to legally ease its way around the opposition’s parliamentary blockade.
Not even the Venezuela opposition is accusing the government of fraud, as elections there are always fully observed by credible independent forces from around the world.
In the October poll for governors, the PSUV won 18 of the 23 states contested in free and fair polls in which the opposition fully participated and won five.
Venezuelan citizens are the ones feeling the increased pains and pressures from the additional sanctions being imposed by Washington, supposedly aimed at helping them.
They have the choices to vote or not – and when they do, the majority indeed support the party started by Hugo Chavez and now led by his chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela has been extremely kind to Saint Lucia under Chavez and Maduro: benefits from PetroCaribe and ALBA membership have included everything from thousands of free school laptop computers in 2016 to construction of three brand new bridges, dozens of scholarships, valuable assistance to the School of Music — and so much more, including US$10 million for the NICE programme.
South America and the Caribbean have traditionally stood by and with Venezuela against external intervention in its internal affairs.
Trinidad & Tobago this week moved to strengthen trade ties with its fellow oil-producing neighbour and Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister also earlier this week thanked Venezuela for its sterling support for Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica after the recent hurricanes.
It will be good to know if the Madam Minister’s statements being in contact with the Peru Group on Venezuela mean Saint Lucia now has changed from its earlier position of opposing external intervention in Venezuela.
At least that much should be clarified – at least to the Venezuelans – if not by the Lady Minister, then by the actual Cabinet Minister with ultimate responsibility Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
However, the best news I got this week was that the Haitian government — which is always at the receiving end of gifts after disasters of one type or another — had donated 630 generators, 1,000 sheets of plywood, 4,500 tarpaulins, 2,000 sheet-rocks and 4,000 metal roof sheets to the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), following devastation of the nearby island chain by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.
My joy in this regard is understandably inexplicable.