KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday February 9, 2018 – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says his Government is concerned about the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, and wants to see citizens of that Spanish-speaking nation again enjoying their democracy.
“This is a principle that has nothing to do with any other country. This has always been Jamaica’s position. We wish the best for the people of Venezuela,” he said, adding that Jamaica supports upholding human rights and peace in the region.
The Prime Minister made the comments on Wednesday as he addressed a joint press conference following bilateral talks with United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was on a one-day working visit to the island.
The turmoil in Venezuela was one of several matters discussed during the talks. Holness said both Jamaica and the US agreed that the Government of Venezuela “must act in the best interest of its people and that it should ensure that the presidential elections are free, fair and credible in the eyes of the Venezuelan people and the international community”.
In his remarks on the issue, Secretary Tillerson said both countries “are heartbroken to see what is happening in Venezuela as we are seeing what was once a thriving democracy dismantled before our very eyes”.
He noted that it is for this reason that the US intends to “take all actions possible to persuade the regime to return to its full constitutional authorities; return it to the hands of the Venezuelan people”.
Tillerson said the US appreciates Jamaica adding its voice to this issue, noting that Jamaica’s vote in the Organization of American States (OAS) to achieve stability, prosperity and support democracy in Venezuela “has demonstrated exceptional support to the human rights issues that confront us in the Western Hemisphere”.
The US Secretary of State says America will continue to ask its partners to support the people of Venezuela during this “very trying time”.
“The US will continue to put pressure on the (President Nicolas) Maduro regime to return its country to fee, open and democratic elections. The people of Venezuela deserve this,” he asserted.
Meantime, Tillerson has lauded the Jamaica Government for the important progress it has made in combating lottery scamming, and he assured of the US Government’s continued support to Jamaica’s security forces and criminal justice system.
He said he appreciated the country’s close cooperation with US authorities to extradite suspected lotto scammers to the US and welcomed the establishment of a bilateral lottery scam task force.
Tillerson also noted the Jamaican Government’s commitment to countering narcotics trafficking and transnational criminal organizations.
The US Secretary of State said there are “many opportunities” to enhance cooperation in this regard, “to be even more effective in disrupting these illegal organizations.”
“It is in both of our countries’ interest to work together to investigate crimes, share intelligence, conduct asset seizures where legally and appropriate to do so, and bolster existing anti-corruption and anti-gang programmes,” he pointed out.
Jamaica was the final destination in the US Secretary of State’s visit to Latin America and the Caribbean.