Barbados stands to benefit from a number of bilateral arrangements with Venezuela in the areas of aviation, agriculture, energy and education.
In a statement following Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s first official visit to the South American country on Saturday, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong highlighted a number of the initiatives that will come out of the agreements.
“Barbados and other Caribbean countries are facing a very difficult international situation, particularly with spiralling energy prices on the international market, and we recognise that Venezuela could very well hold the key to helping us to get through this very difficult period with a new version of the Petrocaribe energy cooperation agreement. So this is one of the areas that is being looked at very closely to the extent to which Barbados could be engaged with Venezuela in a new version of Petrocaribe that will bring very significant relief to Barbados in relation to energy prices,” he said.
Comissiong added that the two states also signed agreements on agriculture cooperation, with Venezuela offering Barbados 55 000 hectares of land for agricultural purposes.
In terms of air services, Comissiong said Barbados was exploring opportunities for the island to do business with Venezuela’s national airline, Conviasa, adding that there was a possibility for airline linkages between the South American nation and CARICOM and Africa.
As it relates to education, the CARICOM Ambassador said scholarship opportunities were put on the table for Barbadians to study medicine in Venezuela and there would also be a teacher exchange programme.
“It is somewhat mind boggling that we have this major country, a large country with a population of 30 million people, an extremely sophisticated country with a diversified economy, a country that offers many many prospects to us for development cooperation, and we have never really fully explored those possibilities. So the visit that occurred [Saturday] is going to be the precursor to a whole raft of developmental initiatives, not only between Barbados and Venezuela but between CARICOM and Venezuela,” he added.
Comissiong said the Prime Minister also used the visit as a platform to advocate for the removal of unilateral sanctions that the United States and other countries have imposed on Venezuela.
“Not only are these sanctions illegal, not only have they severely damaged the nation of Venezuela, the welfare and wellbeing of the people of Venezuela, but they are also damaging the developmental prospects of countries like Barbados and the other CARICOM nations because they are making it difficult for us to have relations with Venezuela . . . ,” he said.
During the trip, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro presented Prime Minister Mottley with one of his country’s top honours, the Order of Liberators of Venezuela, first class.
Mottley’s delegation to Venezuela included Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kerrie Symmonds and Ambassador Comissiong.