By Lincoln Depradine
Venezuela’s top diplomat in Grenada, Carlos Amador Perez Silva, has joined nationals of other countries in congratulating Kirani James on winning a gold medal at the London Olympics in August.
The victory in the 400 meters gave Grenada its first Olympic medal. It’s also the only time in Olympic history that a country with a population of less than 110,000 has captured a medal at the games.
The 20-year-old Grenadian athlete, who has returned to school at the University of Alabama, received more than EC$730,000 in treasury bonds, cash, real estate and Jewelry at a homecoming held in his honour on September 1.
“Congratulations to Kirani and Grenada. Kirani, you are a true champion for Grenada and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean,’’ Ambassador Perez said at a ceremony in St. George’s.
He was participating in the handing over ceremony for phase one of work on the St. George’s Market Square.
The market is among several projects across Grenada that the government and people of Venezuela are funding to the tune of EC$16.5 million.
Phase one of the market and two other projects – refurbishment of the pavilion at the Roy St. John Recreation Ground at Tanteen and rehabilitation of the Ford Bridge in St. Andrew – are finished and have been formally commissioned.
At ceremonies last week for the three completed projects, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and other government officials thanked Venezuela for its assistance to Grenada.
The Prime Minister said Grenada is “committed to deepening and strengthening’’ bilateral relations with its “Venezuelan friends’’.
“We are very thankful to the government of Venezuela for their continued support,’’ said Prime Minister Thomas, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Funding for the projects – which also include a multi-purpose complex at Mont Tout in South St. George’s, a playing field with a pavilion and community centre in Snell Hall, St. Patrick, upgrading of facilities at the St. George’s General Hospital, and enhancing the pan houses of three steelbands – were negotiated by former Foreign Minister Peter David.
David, MP for the Town of St. George, must be recognised for his “vision and the effort,’’ Sports Minister Patrick Simmons said at the Tanteen pavilion ceremony.
For his part, ex-minister David thanked Ambassador Perez for his help.
He said “very best wishes’’ are extended to the Venezuelan people and to President Hugo Chavez in soon-to-be-held elections in the South American republic.
The Market Square, David said, is not a Town of St. George project.
“This is a national project,’’ he emphasised. “This market belongs to all of us. Somebody in Venezuela sacrificed so that we can have this.’’
Last week’s handing over ceremonies were among the final official ambassadorial duties in Grenada for Perez.
The ambassador has confirmed reports that he is leaving Grenada for another overseas diplomatic assignment in the region.