Today’s meeting of Caribbean leaders and US President Barack Obama was designed to sway regional leaders against Venezuela ahead of this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, local activist David Denny has claimed.
Denny, a member of the Friends of Venezuela Barbados group, listed areas of beneficial cooperation which Caribbean states enjoy with Venezuela, and told a panel discussion last night that the sole interest of America is in capitalist exploitation of regional resources.
Obama’s meeting with Caribbean leaders took place in Jamaica ahead of the Summit of the Americas set for tomorrow and Saturday.
Making a contribution from the floor during a University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus forum examining US-Venezuelan relations, Denny said: “I am very concerned about what may happen [today], leading up to the Summit of the Americas, because I believe that this meeting in Jamaica was designed to wring the hands of our leaders to create conditions for them to take a position against Venezuela.”
Panelists were former Barbados Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr Christopher Hackett, and Second Secretary at the Venezuelan Embassy in Barbados, Elias Vilalba.
UWI lecturer in Political Science Dr Wendy Grenade moderated the discussion, which came against a backdrop of the US declaring Venezuela a security threat and imposing sanctions against officials of the South American state in early March.
“This attack by the United States of America against Venezuela is not just an attack against the government and people of Venezuela, but it is an attack on Petrocaribe, and the ALBA agreement,” Denny charged.
Started in 2005, Petrocaribe involves 17 Caribbean countries in a mechanism that allows oil-rich Venezuela to sell them petroleum at concessionary rates. It forms part of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) that promotes economic and social cooperation.
“These are not just merely fuel agreements. There are many social programmes that relate to culture, housing, sports . . . that have been benefitting the poor people of the Americas,” Denny said in an intervention that attracted much applause from the dozens of students in attendance.
“Venezuela and that Bolivarian process have created a space for the poor and powerless people in our hemisphere . . . the conditions for us to have an alternative to that Free Trade Area of the Americas.”
According to the Organization of American States (OAS) which is hosting this weekend’s Summit of the Americas, this seventh meeting, “offers the opportunity for countries to jointly define a hemispheric agenda at the highest level to address urgent challenges and propel positive change”. It is themed Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Co-operation in the Americas.
But Denny contended that the meeting was aimed at propelling the FTAA agenda, which he said is “designed to create conditions for the privatization of our resources in the Americas so that US capitalism can have full control over our resources . . . the privatization of the health services, social services so that the welfare system could be removed”.