November 9, 2007
SVG/Venezuelan relations good – PM

This country’s Prime Minister says that this country’s relationship with Venezuela will not be affected by the recent illegal incidents involving Venezuelan citizens in the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Dr Gonsalves was responding to a question raised by a journalist during a press conference earlier this week.

He said that this country will remain tough on drug trafficking and all such activities.

He suggested that concerns about the relationship between this country and Venezuela are misplaced, because Venezuela is also committed to the fight against drugs.

“They are not representing the Venezuelan government, the Venezuelan Government is also fighting them,” Dr Gonsalves said.

On September 23, local lawmen were in a shootout with men off the coast of Bequia, which left two Venezuelan nationals dead, and two injured.

The five men who lived through the shootout, also Venezuelan nationals, were hauled before the courts to answer charges of shooting at the police, and illegal entry into St Vincent and the Grenadines.

A couple weeks later, seven more Venezuelan men were intercepted aboard a vessel off the coast of Union Island. They were charged with operating a power craft without visible light.

There have also been several other reported sightings of Venezuelan vessels in Vincentian waters.

However, as he stressed his commitment to the fight against the trade in illicit drugs, Dr Gonsalves also had a strong warning for would be culprits.

He alluded to the recent request, by one of the Venezuelan men who was shot during an incident involving local police, to go to Venezuela for urgent medical attention.

“You come to St Vincent and the Grenadines, you get injured by our law enforcement authorities while you are in the process of shooting at our law enforcement agents…don’t expect that I have a hospital with first world facility for you,” Dr Gonsalves said.

“Take my country as you find it; including the state of its hospital,” he added.

Dr Gonsalves noted that Venezuela and St Vincent and the Grenadines don’t have an extradition arrangement.

“So I am sorry, I am not letting you go to Venezuela,” he frankly stated. (KJ)