By Kenton Chance
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has dismissed allegations that the regional integration grouping was being hypocritical when it voiced concern about the ongoing situation in Venezuela, while remaining silent on the political developments in St. Kitts-Nevis.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, had criticized the 15-member grouping for remaining “deafeningly silent” even as a motion of no confidence against the Dr. Denzil Douglas government in St. Kitts-Nevis has not been debated for more than a year.
“What I find most disheartening, is the deafening silence of the other CARICOM governments who appear to wish that this situation in St. Kitts did not exist,” Eustace said, adding that the regional leaders “should hang their heads in shame for condoning this unacceptable state of affairs.
“CARICOM ignores the situation in St. Kitts but makes a firm statement in support of (President Nicolas) Maduro in Venezuela indicating that no democratic society can reasonably pursue disorder or any unwanted subversion of democratic institutions,” Eustace said.
But Gonsalves, who is also Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said Eustace was confusing the issues before him and that the two events were dissimilar.
“There is no hypocrisy there. Where in CARICOM statement is it hypocritical?” he said, adding that in St. Kitts-Nevis, two elected parliamentarians crossed the floor and joined the opposition.
Gonsalves said that because St. Kitts and Nevis has a unicameral system, the government can still get its legislation passed because, senators can vote, adding that the only area where a majority becomes important is a vote of no confidence.
The CARICOM Chairman said that the opposition had filed a vote of no confidence in the government and when to the courts when they felt it was not being heard when they thought it should have been heard.
“And it get tie up in the court. That’s what has happened. I mean any first year child in politics should have told them this is a political question, don’t go and tie yourself up in the court, because you are using a tactic which the government would love.”
Gonsalves said he has written to Prime Minister Douglas indicating that there was is a sense of uneasiness when a motion of no confidence is not heard in a reasonable time, but that, in fairness, it is the opposition that went to court.
“The opposition has locked itself into an internal process. In the case of Venezuela, the situation is dissimilar,” Gonsalves said, noting that in Caracas, the law, the government, was elected 11 months ago and won overwhelmingly the local government elections at the end of last year.
“But what is taking place in Venezuela, it is plain for everybody to see, you have a number of elements from outside of Venezuela seeking to add to the destabilization of the country.
“St. Kitts is a purely internal matter, which is being sorted out within the law of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Gonsalves said.