Venezuela was there for Jamaica

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Government and the people of Jamaica should be very thankful to Venezuela and its people, instead of threatening a hostile takeover of its minority shares in Petrojam.

First of all, before any discussion about expanding or upgrading the State's oil refinery is entertained, the Government should clean up the corruption, fraud and mismanagement that now exists there.

The Government of Venezuela is having a hard time at the moment. Its economy is in shambles, the people are experiencing a lot of hardships and are fleeing the country in droves into neighbouring Columbia. The country is experiencing a record-breaking inflation rate and consumer items are scarce and costly to come by. Economic sanctions are only making matters worse.

For Jamaica to kick a true friend while he/she is down is just disingenuous, at best.

Given the same circumstances, would the Government and the people of Jamaica even think about taking the same stance regarding ExxonMobil. I don't think so.

No one has to like the present regime; that's for the Venezuelan people to decide. But a country that helped out Jamaica tremendously in times of need, when oil prices were way above US$100 per barrel, with a concessionary price agreement through PertroCaribe, the country that buys back your US$3-billion debt to them for half the price, is just being ungrateful. It is like biting the hand that fed you.

As one writer declared: the “only oil-producing country that helped poor and developing countries such as Jamaica was Venezuela. No other country came to its rescue. And that should be acknowledged, appreciated and not forgotten.”

They even extended generosity to the great United States; yes, you're reading correctly, by supplying poor people in that country with heating oil during harsh, cold winter months, while other oil-producing nations and corporations were busy taking advantage of the struggling economies of the Third World with unconscionable price gouging.

I think the Jamaican Government is trying to take advantage of the rift between the United States and Venezuela.

It seems to think it has Venezuela over a barrel, no pun intended.

During an interview, the late, great Nelson Mandela was asked why he was friendly with regimes such as Cuba, Libya, and others, he replied that during his struggle those countries were there for his people; “They gave me tremendous financial and other help.”

The same could be said about Jamaica and Venezuela's relationship. Jamaica's economy was struggling under the weight of extraordinary high oil prices, which was costing the country over a billion US dollars a year, which was unsustainable. I agree that the refinery in time should be expanded and upgraded, no question about that, but this is not the way to go about it.

If the shares have to be bought back because of Venezuela's current economic situation, then both parties, willingly, should negotiate in good faith and come up with an amicable and reasonable solution. That is the way you treat a friend who was there for you.

Noel Mitchell

Westchester, New York

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