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More Venezuela Sanctions as Trump Meets Carib leaders at Mar-a-Lago

Featured President Donald Trump, right, meets with Caribbean leaders at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Friday. From left, Saint Lucia's Allen Michael Chastanet, Haiti's Jovenel Moise, Dominican Republic's Danilo Medina, Jamaica's Andrew Holness; and Bahama's Hubert Minnis. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) President Donald Trump, right, meets with Caribbean leaders at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Friday. From left, Saint Lucia's Allen Michael Chastanet, Haiti's Jovenel Moise, Dominican Republic's Danilo Medina, Jamaica's Andrew Holness; and Bahama's Hubert Minnis. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)
PALM BEACH,  Florida, March 22, 2019 - Against the background of his meeting with leaders from the five Caribbean countries that generally support the U.S. call for an end to Maduro's rule in Venezuela, US President Donald Trump today slapped additional sanctions against the South American nation, in response to the kidnapping of a top aide to Juan Guaido who the U.S wants to see replace the embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

The new sanctions specifically target Venezuela's national development bank, BANDES, and four additional subsidiaries that BANDES owns or controls.

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, "The regime's continued use of kidnapping, torture and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international coalition that is united behind Juan Guaido."

It is alleged that forces affiliated with the Maduro government broke into the homes of officials backing Guaido and threatened them with their lives. Guaido's chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, was kidnapped.  Vice President Mike Pence In an op-ed published Friday in The Miami Herald, said the kidnapping was an "egregious violation of the rule of law" and was only the latest example of Maduro's "brutality and despotism."

Trump hosted  the Prime Ministers of  Jamaica, St. Lucia, the Bahamas, as well as the presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach and pledged U.S. investment in their countries. to show his support for Caribbean countries that back democratic transition in Venezuela. The five have either denounced Maduro or joined more than 50 countries in recognizing Juan Guaido as the rightful interim leader of the nation.

Trump told the leaders as the meeting kicked off that he would be "discussing ways that we can be beneficial to you and you can be beneficial to us."

A report in the Sun Sentinel newspaper quotes Prime Minister Andrew Holness as saying "that at their meeting with Trump he learned that a representative from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets, would be visiting the region and the five countries.

"The message from this meeting is that the United States wants to encourage and promote stronger relationship with the region," Holness said. "It's absolutely important that it's not just talk, that there will be real investments."

The Sun Sentinel further quotes Holness as saying, "We're very happy with that message. We feel that that is a message that is long-in-coming, but we're also satisfied that it's not just a message. Were satisfied that there will be instrumental action."

The Sun Sentinel report also quoted St. Lucia's Prime Minister Allen Chastenet who said "it's been since the Reagan administration that the U.S. has taken an interest in the Caribbean and acknowledged that Trump's invitation was likely due to their support of the U.S. stance against Venezuela at the Organization of American States.

He also acknowledged that not all countries in the region agree with the U.S. call for Maduro's ouster.

"I think we all recognize there's a problem in Venezuela. Most people recognize the need for new elections," Chastanet said, adding that any disagreement they have is in how that will play out. "The world remains divided on that. I think there is a growing consensus that there needs to be fresh elections in Venezuela to resolve the humanitarian crisis."

In January, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, Guyana and St. Lucia supported a resolution at the Organization of American States (OAS) in not recognizing Maduro’s second five-year term. Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against the measure.

St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Belize abstained during the vote; while Grenada was not present.

Earlier this week, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, brushed aside suggestions that Trump’s non-invitation to the other Caribbean leaders was a snub.

 

  • Countries: Caribbean

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