A group of Venezuelans living in Barbados is accusing local dignitaries of deliberately spreading propaganda on behalf of the Venezuelan government by returning with fake news reports on the country’s situation after government-sponsored trips to the country.
Upset Venezuelans told Barbados TODAY that the “propaganda” was intended to give the impression that “everything is fine and dandy” in the country, which is widely reported as being in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, fuelled by a dictator.
The local group came together near Accra Beach to protest the tenure of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – joining thousands of their countrymen living in 70 countries around the world, who are demanding that he be removed from office.
Political activists, including Barbados’ ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), David Commissiong and General Secretary of the Friends of Venezuela Solidarity Committee, David Denny, have on numerous occasions defended the Maduro-led government of Venezuela amid continued criticism.
However, some Venezuelans living in Barbados say their families are suffering in Venezuela and have dismissed the accounts of local activists.
“A lot of local dignitaries say Venezuela is fantastic, but I invite them and I have invited them on social media, to go to Venezuela and live with a Venezuelan family. Take your wife with you and when your wife is going through that time of the month that every lady goes through, take her to a supermarket to find sanitary napkins. Take your child with you and when he gets a headache, try to get aspirin for the child; you won’t find it,” said Jose Zerba, who has been living in Barbados for over 30 years since migrating from Venezuela.
Instead, Zerba accused the local dignitaries of doing a disservice with their accounts of the situation in the country.
“The government of Venezuela will invite you to Venezuela for a week, so that you can come back and talk about Venezuela. You’re going to fly first class if you don’t go on a private aircraft. You’re going to stay as a guest of the government. You’re going to get all three of your meals and if you want champagne with breakfast, you can have that along with a private car to pick you up and take you where you want to go,” he said.
Earlier this month, a number of Barbadians travelled to Venezuela to attend the January 10th Presidential Inauguration of Nicolas Maduro and reported that the election process was fair, despite reports from countless international media that the election was rigged.
Maria Gloumeau, another Venezuelan protester, however, told Barbados TODAY that their families were “dying and crying” and when they go against the government are being killed and imprisoned.
“We are supporting our Venezuelan people to take out Mr. Nicolas Maduro who has taken presidency as a dictator because he was not elected by the people.
“The news that comes from Barbadians who go to Venezuela is usually from people who are taken there by the government. They see a different country to what exists. There’s no medicine, there’s no food, there’s a lot of insecurity, there’s nothing,” she said in despair.
Last May, Head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Tennyson Joseph declared that Venezuela was “more democratic than Barbados,” following criticism of the Maduro government’s handling of the situation in Venezuela. Joseph more recently has also called on regional governments to respect Venezuela’s right to self-determination.
However, Venezuelans living in Barbados have described last May’s election in Venezuela as fraudulent. Instead, they say that many around the world were asking for help to create a transition toward a new government and new elections.
“Venezuela today sits on the world’s largest confirmed oil reserves. Venezuela has bauxite, diamonds and gold, but at the same time, Venezuela is the poorest country after Haiti in the hemisphere,” argued Zerba.
Much to the delight of the protestors, Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, today declared himself the country’s interim president before thousands of demonstrators in Caracas as the latest step to end the Maduro’s reign as President.