The government of Venezuela, through the Petrocaribe initiative, has donated US$16 million to help the government of St. Kitts and Nevis provide for former workers in the sugar industry. Yes, 16 million United States Dollars. However, Prime Minister Harris says that he only received 16 million Eastern Caribbean Dollars, and not the equivalent of EC$42 million.
The proof is on the government of Venezuela’s website here: Venezuelan Government website.
Venezuela’s ambassador to the twin island federation Bernardo Alvarez handed the check to Prime Minister Timothy Harris at a ceremony in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The ambassador said talks on this initiative were cordial and arrangements were finalized quickly. He also spoke of the significant role of Petrocaribe in assisting ALBA member states.
“This is a moment to talk about the importance and nature of PetroCaribe. PetroCaribe is an energy agreement between countries based on the vast natural resources that Venezuela possesses … It is a tool for economic and social development. This is why under the umbrella of PetroCaribe we can have these social programs,” he said.
The Kittitian Prime Minister praised the government of Venezuelan for its continued support for former sugar workers.
“They had been involved in the building of homes for some of the former sugar workers and they therefore had become interested in assisting the government in meeting this very major policy initiative that we had announced,” said Harris.
St. Kitts and Nevis once dominated the global sugar industry, but about ten years ago, its cane fields and sugar factory were closed, following crushing losses. The government says the Petrocaribe funds will help deal with the shortfall in the compensation package to the former workers.
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis will convene a press conference on Thursday April 2, 2015, to provide detailed information on how it plans to distribute the funds received from Petrocaribe.