What exactly is Grenada’s position on the current political unrest in Venezuela?
In the last two weeks, Foreign Minister Peter David held a press conference and stated that Grenada is fully in support of Caricom’s position on Venezuela which involves a negotiated and peaceful settlement involving the two warring sides in Caracas and not the planned removal of the Maduro government by outside forces.
Days later, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet said that Caricom itself was very much divided on the Venezuelan situation.
Chastanet was responding to criticisms leveled at him and other Caricom Prime Ministers who went to the United States to meet with President Donald Trump at his residence in Florida to discuss a range of issues including the situation in Venezuela.
The Keith Mitchell-led government itself has not been giving a clear signal on its exact position on the chaotic situation in Caracas.
Grenada is a member of the Venezuela-promoted group known as ALBA and on two occasions chose to abstain on critical votes on the uncertain situation in the country.
Other ALBA members in the English-speaking Caribbean like St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Antigua have been consistent with their vote on the political situation in Venezuela and specifically in favour of Maduro but unlike Grenada which is pussy-footing.
The Venezuelans must be taking careful note of the Grenada position given the amount of assistance that Caracas has been giving to the island especially through the PetroCaribe arrangement with oil and gas on concessionary terms.
A very flimsy excuse was given from quarters known to be friendly to government in seeking to explain Grenada’s abstention on the last vote in the Organisation of American States (OAS) on continued humanitarian aid efforts by the opposition forces into Venezuela.
The explanation that was given is that Grenada’s representative is not yet accredited to the OAS and could not take part in the critical vote.
However, an experienced diplomat was quick to point out that this was not a problem since Grenada had the option of sending one of its senior ambassadors along with a diplomatic note from St. George’s to cast a definitive vote instead of abstaining once more on the Venezuelan issue that was under discussion.
It is time for Foreign Minister Peter David to back up his often mouthed support and his so-called personal friendship with Maduro with substance and not “ole talk”.
The Mitchell-led government also had a bad score-sheet this week over its failure to send a representative to the State funeral given to the retired Grenada-born Court of Appeal Justice, Albert Redhead in Antigua.
The funeral was attended by the top government, opposition and judicial officials in the sub-regional grouping known as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) including judges and over 200 lawyers from as far away as Canada and Belize.
The Redhead family felt slighted and hurt by the manner in which this son of the soil who excelled at the regional level was virtually ignored by the government of his homeland.
THE NEW TODAY is fully aware of the thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies given by the Redhead family to the Ministry of Health and in particular to the St. George’s General Hospital over the years especially under the current government of Prime Minister Mitchell.
As one family member lamented, the late Court of Appeal judge and his wife June flew into Grenada within days of the widespread devastation of the island by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and personally handed over supplies to Prime Minister Mitchell at his private residence at Happy Hill.
To add insult to injury, the family member recalled the many visits to Grenada paid by the late Redhead on Court of Appeal business and often approached by PM Mitchell for legal advice on a number of important state matters.
The government could have at least sent the Attorney-General or the Minister of Legal Affairs to Antigua to represent the island at the official funeral given to the late Court of Appeal Justice.
That aside, THE NEW TODAY is very thankful that citizens who feel wronged by the actions of their own government can still go to a court of law and seek redress.
The proof of this is the two recent decisions handed down by courts of law against the actions of Prime Minister Mitchell on two senior public officers – former Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas and former Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson.
The clear ruling from the courts is that the Prime Minister acted recklessly in removing Thompson and Bain-Thomas from their positions at tremendous cost to the taxpayers of the country.
The effect of the high-handed manner in which the Ex-Cabinet Secretary was bundled out of her office will result in the Treasury having to pay the goodly lady over EC$700, 000.00 for the breach of her constitutional rights.
On Monday, a high court judge Justice Roberts delivered a ruling to the effect that PM Mitchell erred in the manner in which he removed the island’s Commissioner of Police from office following NNP’s 15-0 victory in the 2013 general election.
If there is a real need for Constitutional Change is now, for the financial burden to be shifted away from the Treasury and slapped on those who take these reckless decisions at the expense of the taxpayers of the country.