NATIONAL Security Minister, Senator Hermangild Francis, has urged trust in the government and this country’s security forces, in the decision to impose visa restrictions on Venezuelan nationals.
The Saint Lucia government said the measure is security related.
“It does not serve any purpose to go and victimise Venezuela any further by giving figures about the number of drug shipments that have come here, the number of firearms that we have recovered and so on,” Francis told the senate on Tuesday.
The minister headed a local delegation to Venezuela last month, where he met with the Minister of Public Safety and Internal Security and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“I must report the meetings were very cordial and even the Venezuelan ministers admitted that there is a problem – an economic problem,” the minister told the meeting of the senate.
He asserted that the exodus of Venezuelans to the Caribbean is ‘well documented.’
“Trinidad is taking punitive actions against Venezuelans, Guyana is in uproar and it is only prudent that we as a government try to protect our people in Saint Lucia,” Francis, a former Deputy Police Commissioner, declared.
“Trinidad and Guyana have the size and maybe the ability to accept those individuals, but Saint Lucia – imagine 1.5 million people coming to your country which is populated by only 180,000. How do we survive that kind of influx?”
Francis reiterated that the government and people of this country are still friends of Venezuela.
“We accept and recognise that Venezuela has assisted Saint Lucia, but it is not because you are my friend and your actions may cause discomfort to my people that I should continue and not take any action to make sure that my people are safe,” the minister declared.
He said that while in Venezuela a joint committee was formed with the Venezuelans expected to visit Saint Lucia in the next three weeks to see what is taking place here and receive figures that would help them to recognise how ‘precarious’ it is for Saint Lucia not to take action.