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(SNO) – Former Cabinet Minister Richard Frederick has described the government’s reasons for imposing visa restrictions on Venezuelans as “bullsh–try”, “absurd”, and “ridiculous”.
Frederick made the comments on the July 26, 2018 edition of his popular live talk show, ‘Can I Help You’, aired weekly on MBC Television.
According to a press release, the Government of Saint Lucia will impose visa requirements on Venezuelans — with the exception of diplomats and genuine business persons — due to the “mounting national security concerns and the monitoring of unrelenting activities impacting the island’s porous borders”.
In layman’s terms, Venezuelan criminals are being blamed for the influx of drugs and drug-related crimes in Saint Lucia over the past several years.
However, Frederick joins a growing number of public figures who do not believe that putting visa restrictions on Venezuelan nationals will deter any criminal activity in Saint Lucia. Furthermore, Frederick believes that such an action against Venezuelans is ungrateful considering the fact that the South American country has been seen as the island’s ally for many years. He pointed out the PetroCaribe agreement which has benefited Saint Lucia and many countries in the Caribbean.
Commenting on the issue during the talk show, Frederick started off by calling Prime Minister Allen Chastanet “dumb” for arriving at such a decision, while on the other hand lifting visa restrictions for Chinese nationals.
“Allen Chastanet is a dumb prime minister, there is no question about that. And this is not an opinionated statement, it’s a factual statement, a factual statement. And because of that, he believes he can lead a 170,000 people into his territory of dumbness. He believe he can do so. But I’ll tell you Allen Chastanet, this would be an arduous task. I am not in your 43 percent. I may be a jack– but you will not tell me when to bray, you will not tell me when to bray,” Frederick stated.
He went on to say that “no one would stand to deny that most drugs come from Colombia into Venezuela and then other countries into the region — that’s known to the average man”.
He added: “But I want to ask the prime minister to answer me this: which drug lord, which drug supplier, which boat captain, coming into this country or to any other country as a matter of fact, with their whole load of drugs or their whole load of guns, if you want to call it that, will go and look for a visa, and say ‘hello I need a visa to come to Saint Lucia to take my loads of drugs and guns down there?”
The former Castries Central representative called the decision “bullsh–try”.
“Is there a word called bullsh–try? I mean, I never heard such crap, and if there is such a word, this is bullsh-try. The illegal drug trade is one in which almost everything is done illegally, everything.
“The guys don’t come on planes, they come on planes? The guys use their boats, most times they don’t even come into our ports. They do what they have to do on the water. This is common knowledge, so to say that you’ll put a visa requirement to curb that particular situation is absurd.”
Frederick, a lawyer by profession, continued with some sarcasm: “Yea, you will see a Venezuelan coming through Vigie airport or Hewanorra airport, ‘uhhmm come through, yes you have your visa’ – stamp; customs officer: ‘what do you have to declare?’ ‘I have two kilos of cocaine to declare’. Nonsense, nonsense, you would not hear that.” That excuse does not hold water. This excuse is ridiculous Mr. Prime Minister and your explanation makes no sense, none whatsoever, because no amount of visa or other stipulation would prevent those desperate illegal thugs from doing their drug trade, so you need to wheel and come again.”
He said, at the time when Saint Lucians were required to have a visa to enter Martinique, the Saint Lucian drug dealers did not apply for a visa in order to get their drugs through the French territory.
“They didn’t go and look visas. Most of them don’t even have passports,” he said.
“Let’s be real. It’s that kind of thinking that caused all that Brouhaha in the House of Assembly on Tuesday (July 24, 2018)” CLICK HERE FOR THAT STORY)
Frederick then observed that the mainstream media houses have “refused” to take on the prime minister with those “frivolous explanations”.
He is one of a number of persons speaking out against the visa imposition.
Local human and gender rights advocate Felicia Dujon Browne expressed her support for Venezuela, which is experiencing severe economic hardships due to internal and external challenges, in a Facebook post on Friday, July 27, calling the Saint Lucian government’s decision “careless”, “baseless”, and “irresponsible”. CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL STORY ON BROWNE’S COMMENTS
“Invoking a visa restriction on Venezuela is one of the most careless decisions to have been undertaken,” she wrote.
“As members of OECS and CARICOM, we should have recognized the importance of our friendship with our Latin American brothers and sisters. Every country has its allies and foes for various reasons. We should choose carefully which allegiances we should foster or severe our ties with. When our friends are on their knees, we do not close the doors in their faces. With good governance, we should act with dignity, humility and good conscious,” she added.
The government has cautioned the nation not to sensationalise the visa issue and have sought to reach out to Venezuela diplomatically.
In a press release, it was announced that Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Hermangild Francis, was scheduled to lead a contingent to Venezuela on Friday, July 27, 2018 to “meet with the Minister of the Popular Power for the Interior, Justice and Peace Mr. Nestor Luis Reverol and the Director of the National Anti- Drug Organization Mr. Juan Grillo Gonzales”.
Minister Francis explained, according to the release, that the government has been “very thorough in relation to responding to some of the spin-off challenges emerging from the country’s current unfortunate economic circumstances”.
“Venezuela is still our friend,” Francis said. “We are not attempting to embarrass any nation, but suffice it to say that it is incumbent on the Government to take measures that will protect the country from security threats, and not compromise the security of our citizens or our borders. So this visit signifies that we are still friends and we will discuss mutual concerns and explore any solutions for going forward.”