Our Readers' Opinions
March 7, 2017
Thanks, Prime Minister! Thanks Venezuela

EDITOR: The Venezuelan-Vincentian Friendship Association (VENVIFA), with our main objective of promoting “the most extensive and mutually beneficial relationships of friendship, co-operation, solidarity and support among the peoples of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the context of unity and integration of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean”, congratulates Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the opening of the Argyle International Airport (AIA), and pledges our support of its productive successful operation.

At our recent BIENNIAL meeting, we expressed our deep appreciation of the steadfast support of the AIA by the government and the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and noted the following concrete manifestations of such support:

1. COMMITMENT: Clearly, the point of departure is the solidary commitment, captured in the now iconic words of Commandante Hugo Chavez Frias at the June 2005 meeting with PM Gonsalves and Commandante Fidel Castro Ruz, “Well, Fidel if you say we have to build the airport for Ralph, we will build the airport. Venezuela will help.”

2. PERSONNEL: Within weeks (September 2005) of the June decision, Venezuelan engineers and technicians were at Argyle to conduct topographical, soil and wind studies. Maria Leon, a soil engineer who worked at Argyle, died in a plane crash in Venezuela. Later, many Venezuelans (including equipment operators), worked at the AIA in the famous Chatoyer-Che-Chavez contingent, which P.M Gonsalves described as “the backbone of the workforce”.

3. EQUIPMENT: Venezuela provided some 50 pieces of equipment valued at EC$30 million – bulldozers (6), motor scrapers (2), front-end loaders (3), dump-trucks (9), motor graders (3), water-trucks (3), wagon drill (1), backhoes (2), hydraulic excavators (3), bus (1), jeep (1), trucks (5), fuel, mechanic, service, administrative (2), compressor (1), oxicut outfit (1), welding unit (1), jacks (2), wind/weather stations (3), plus other assorted items and spare parts.

4. FINANCE: “One-third of the $700 million which built this airport came from the Government of Venezuela, Petrocaribe and ALBA Bank”, the Prime Minister informed at the February 14th opening. Some $121million was borrowed from ALBA’s Solidarity Fund, and $74 million from Petrocaribe.

5. VISITS: Argyle was visited by two Venezuelan Presidents: Hugo Chavez (2007) and Nicholas Maduro (2015), a Vice-President – Jorge Arreaza (2015), and two Foreign Affairs ministers – Elias Jaua (2014) and Delcy Rodriguez (2015). Minister Jaua returned as Vice- President to deliver greetings at the February 14th AIA opening.

For such manifestations of extensive solidarity, we in VENVIFA say “MUCHISIMAS GRACIAS” and pledge our own support of the transformative work of the Maduro administration in Venezuela.

In the words of our motto “Tu sangre es mi sangre” (“Your blood is my blood”).

Mike Browne