US Ambassador: Relations with Chavez no problem
March 2, 2007

US Ambassador: Relations with Chavez no problem

The United States of America has no problem with Caribbean countries which develop closer links with Venezuela, says Mary Ourisman, the newly appointed United States (US) Ambassador to the OECS.

Ambassador Ourisman told reporters that the US understood that Caribbean countries need to look out for their benefits.{{more}}

Arrangements like the recent Memorandum of Understanding, embracing the principles of Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA) signed by St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica with Venezuela will not affect the US’ relationship with these countries, she told reporters.

ALBA is Veneuela’s alternative to America’s Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) but Ambassador Ourisman was adamant that the strengthening relationship with Veneuela and their leader, Hugo Chavez was no problem to the US.

Asked whether or not a stern warning was given to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on President Bush’s behalf about his deepening relationship with President Chavez when they met, Ambassador Ourisman and her aides responded “no” in an unrehearsed uniformity.

“As a democratic country you are free to look out for what is best for you as a country,” she said.

The Ambassador, who assumed duties last October, visited St Vincent and the Grenadines last Monday on what was the final leg of her visit to the seven countries she will be fulfilling ambassadorial duties for.

Ambassador Ourisman presented her credentials to the Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne and had an audience with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. She also met with Arhnim Eustace, the Leader of the Opposition.

She said that St Vincent and the Grenadines could continue to look forward to a great relationship with the US. While she admitted that the US is not inclined to give assistance for building construction, Ourisman said that they will continue to assist in the fight against AIDS.

“We will also continue to help through USAID to get you prepared if a natural disaster should strike,” she said.

Ourisman, who is on her first diplomatic appointment said that she was looking forward to her time in the Caribbean and to doing some work in the field of wildlife conservation which is one of her dearest passions.

She also took the opportunity to present US$3,000 to Kathy Martin, President of the National Trust part of a $14,000 pledge to that organization.