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Jamaica should have abstained from legitimacy vote on Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro - critics

Rupert Lewis, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government at UWI Mona and Lisa Hanna, Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
 
Rupert Lewis, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona, says Jamaica should have abstained from Thursday's Organization of American States (OAS) vote to not recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's new term as Venezuelan President.
 
Speaking on RJR's Hotline programme Friday morning, Professor Lewis said it would not have been a cowardice move. 
 
"Jamaica has not been told how it arrives from a situation where it has not had anything to say about the election of Maduro; CARICOM said it was free and fair with problem and then you arrive at a position where you are taking the majority of issues - I can understand the economic aspect, but I can't understand the separation of the economic aspect from the political position which the government has not taken," he asserted.  
 
Other CARICOM countries such as The Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti and St. Lucia supported the OAS resolution while Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Suriname voted against it.
 
St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Belize abstained during the vote earlier this week, while Grenada was not present when the matter was put to the vote.
 
Professor Lewis argued that Jamaica is aligning itself with the ideology of the United States because it is still in a difficult fiscal situation. 
 
"From the end of December 2017, I saw the drift of the Jamaican Government - by and large faced with a Trump administration, faced with Nikki Haley's ultimatum to people that we're watching how you vote," he pointed out.                                                           
Opposition disappointed 
 
Meanwhile, Lisa Hanna, Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, said she is disappointed that Jamaica voted in favour of the OAS resolution.
 
"It's not surprising, but it's extremely disappointing because of our enviable foreign policy approaches to take decisions on principle, one; and how we have been respected in the world in terms of our non-aligned approaches to sovereign states and our humanitarian approaches to bring mediation, especially to countries in this kind of situation," she contended.  
 
She said the Opposition is additionally disappointed because Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is the chairman of CARICOM, could not "bring reason to this situation" and "bring CARICOM to the table to say, well, let us see how best to deal with this." 
 
Ms Hanna further asserted that Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson's explanation that the decision was not political, but purely economic, has been exposed to not necessarily be true.                                                                                     
Damaging Jamaica's image 
 
The Opposition spokesperson noted that Jamaica's vote to not recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's new term as Venezuelan president could affect its image in the international arena.
 
She said Jamaica benefited economically from Venezuela through PetroCaribe and it sends a wrong signal to the international community when it does not support its partners in times of trouble.
 
Ms Hannah, who was speaking on RJR's Hotline Friday morning with host Emily Shields, was asked about the human rights abuses in Venezuela, but argued that, while these alleged abuses have been published in the media, she has been privy to information that suggests external forces are to blame. 
 
Asked how the Opposition would have voted at the OAS if it was in Government, Ms Hanna shied away from a decision, saying instead that Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips would soon speak on the matter. 
 


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