ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Dominica, one of the strongest allies of Venezuela in the English speaking Caribbean, has denounced the helicopter attack on the country's Supreme Court that President Nicolas Maduro has linked to an effort to overthrow his government in the South American country.
Speaking at a ceremony here marking the 12th anniversary of the PetroCaribe Agreement, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit acknowledged that while Venezuela “is going through its own challenges” it was important for Dominica “to stand in even more stronger solidarity with Venezuela.
“Friendship is not what you can get from somebody. Solidarity is not when you are receiving. Friendship is remaining steadfast with that person or that country notwithstanding what that country may be going through,” he said.
“We do so as a country not on ideological reasons but on principle. We can always negotiate words but we must never negotiate our principles,” said Skerrit, who had enjoyed a close relationship with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez under whose administration PetroCaribe, an initiative to provide oil and products to Caribbean countries on conditions of preferential payment, had been agreed upon.
“The government of Venezuela led by President Nicolas Maduro was elected by the people of Venezuela in accordance with the election laws of Venezuela and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Venezuela.
“So which one of us in this world has the right to seek to want to remove the President of Venezuela from office? That is a matter for the Venezuelan people in accordance with the constitution of Venezuela, and in accordance with the election laws of Venezuela,” he said, noting “there is a growing tendency by political parties, organisations and individuals to believe that the best way to remove a legitimate government from office is through violent means.”
He told the audience that 'we see it trying to manifest itself here in Dominica that people believe that by any means necessary they must remove a government,” he said.
Hundreds of supporters of the opposition parties in Venezuela have been staging street demonstrations calling for Maduro's removal resulting in the deaths of several demonstrators.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are divided on the issue with countries like Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Antigua and Barbuda not in support of any political interference in the South American country while Jamaica for instance has sided with the Organisation of American States (OAS) initiative to seek to deal with the matter.
Earlier this week, the Venezuelan government said it was searching for a rogue policemen who attacked key installations by helicopter. In extraordinary scenes over Caracas on Tuesday evening, the stolen helicopter fired shots at the Interior Ministry and dropped grenades on the Supreme Court, both viewed by Venezuela's opposition as bastions of support for a dictator.
Prime Minister Skerrit said for the world to be silent on such matters is a very “unbecoming.
“For us to sit as a country, as a world, as global global institutions, and not condemn violent actions is unbecoming of the world irrespective of who is perpetrating this violence, it must be condemned by us, all of us and this has nothing to do with Petro Caribe, it has nothing to do with ALBA, it is simply a matter of principle,” he said.
Skerrit said terrorist acts whether committed in Dominica, Venezuela, the United States or anywhere else in the world, “are terrorist acts…and we all have a responsibility to condemn it.
“When the police officer commandeers illegally the property of the state, in that case, a helicopter which is armed with grenades and firepower, military firepower, and sends up grenades at the Ministry of Interior, and also the Court House, what else can we define to be an act of terrorism?” Skerrit stated.
He said the court house is sacrosanct in any country that upholds democratic principles and assured Caracas that his government stands in solidarity with the Venezuelan government “as a matter of principle” and “not because of Petro Caribe or what Venezuela has provided for Dominica.
“We so because we understand what friendship is, we understand what solidarity is, and we do so as matter of principle,” he said.