“We really want to see that community of Latin America and the Caribbean become more of a reality whereby the more developed countries in South America could assist us,’’ Prime Minister Thomas said Tuesday at a function commemorating the 200th anniversary of independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
According to the Prime Minister, countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina may have more advanced technology in matters of energy that could be useful in assisting Grenada, which has “the potential for alternative sources of energy but we do not have the technology.’’
Hon. Thomas was among several ministers who attended the function at the residence of Venezuela’s Ambassador to Grenada, His Excellency Carlos Amador Perez Silva.
Other guests included Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean; members of the local diplomat corps; and representatives of the business community and the labour movement.
“I really want to congratulate the government and people of Venezuela on celebrating 200 years of independence,’’ Prime Minister Thomas said. “Historically, we in the English-speaking Caribbean have been looking to North America and Europe. In recent times, we’ve been strengthening cooperation between South America and the Caribbean, and Venezuela has been playing a key role.’’
Mr. Thomas said Grenada and Venezuela have always had good relations, and highlighted areas of assistance from the Venezuelans such as the construction of the Simon Bolivar Low-income Housing Project; the General Hospital Rebuilding Project; the provision of education scholarships for Grenadians; and the Petro Caribe initiative.
“Petro Caribe is something that we welcome,’’ the Prime Minister said. “Grenada and all the other member-territories that are in Petro Caribe have benefitted substantially from it. Of course, in the long run, the countries will have to pay back the loan. But at the same time, monies are being made available for other projects and programs.’’
Education Minister Franka Bernadine substituted on Tuesday evening for Foreign Minister Karl Hood, who was representing Grenada at independence celebrations in Venezuela.
The Acting Foreign Minister said that as an independent nation, Venezuela has made tremendous strides.
“Given the remarkable socio-economic and political progress made over the past 200 years, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela certainly has much to be proud of,’’ said Senator Bernadine.
Grenada, she said, is “extremely grateful for the meaningful contributions made to our national development’’ by the government and people of Venezuela.
Ambassador Perez, in a comment to the Government Information Service, said the independence anniversary was more than just another celebration.
“I believe the most important thing at this particular time is that this year, we’re going to have a summit in Venezuela that is looking at the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean state community,’’ Ambassador Perez disclosed. “I believe this is going to be a historical landmark for the region.’’
The ambassador said Grenada/Venezuela relations are at an “excellent level,’’ announcing that “important projects of cooperation will begin soon, such as the second phase of the General Hospital and the complete refurbishment of the St. George’s Market Square.’’
For trade union leader, Senator Chester Humphrey, the independence commemoration was an opportunity to reflect on what he described as the anti-colonial revolutionary struggle of the Venezuelan people.
“What is even more historical and important is that today we have a government in Venezuela that epitomizes that struggle as led by President Chavez. It’s yet another high point in the universal struggle of people for national liberation and for national sovereignty and that, to me, is really important,’’ said Sen. Humphrey, President General of the Technical and Allied Workers Union.