Published On: Tue, Apr 14th, 2015

Barbados PM calls for dialogue between Venezuela and US

Freundel StuartPANAMA CITY, Panama -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart believes that there must be frank and honest dialogue between Venezuela and the United States.

While addressing the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama on Saturday, Stuart said: “Dialogue between Cuba and the United States of America ended many long years of hostilities between the two countries. May the fruits of this seventh summit be the undertaking of a frank and honest dialogue between Venezuela and the United States of America.

“The peace and security of the hemisphere demand no less! It cannot be made to appear after all, that the United States needs at least one adversary in this hemisphere at any given point and time,” he said.

Stuart stressed that Barbados’ relationship with and support for the people of Venezuela had never been up for negotiation.

“Venezuela´s historical commitment to the integration of this hemisphere through the efforts of Simon Bolivar and a succession of leaders down to the present has always recommended itself to the people of Barbados,” he stated.

Stuart described the two-day Summit, which ended on Saturday, as historic because Cuba had attended and participated in the discussions for the first time. Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas was the theme of the Summit, and several sub-themes, among them education, health, energy, environment, migration, security, citizen participation and democratic governance were discussed.

Stuart said all of the countries of the hemisphere must work together and share experiences, successes and failures. He stated that only in this way could they overcome the obstacles which limit the unleashing of the full potential of all of citizens. He added that the policies and programmes adopted at the meeting must reach all – the young, the old, the disabled, the vulnerable, the gifted, and both men and women.

The prime minister pointed out that, over the years, Barbados had sought to meet the health needs of all through universal access to quality healthcare, and to provide sound education from kindergarten through to the tertiary level, within the context of what its limited resources could afford.

“We have recognised that health and education are critical cornerstones of a strong society, and a strong country. But today we are facing serious challenges in both these key sectors. Costs continue to spiral out of our reach. For example, in the field of health, my government now spends a large part of its budget on dealing with the dire challenge of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs),” he told his audience.

Stuart said there was a need to strengthen cultural ties in the Americas and to promote cooperation for the conservation and protection of the region’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. He added that the government and people of Barbados were excited that Rihanna had just been recognised for entrepreneurship in the Americas.

He stressed that access to higher educational opportunities, and to technical and vocational training could contribute significantly to poverty reduction, and providing the skills that lead to the creation of employment, and meaningful work for young people.

He told the leaders: “An inescapable obligation rests on our shoulders to help our young people to effect successfully, the transition from school to the workplace, and to appreciate in the process all the cultures of the region.”

He noted that, as a small island developing state, Barbados was already experiencing the effects of climate change, particularly with regard to its coastal zones, fisheries and vulnerability to the increasing threats of natural disasters. Stuart again urged the multilateral development banks to integrate sustainable development indicators in their decision-making processes.

The prime minister identified energy and climate change as areas in which further collaboration was essential. He also stressed that hemispheric cooperation must be extended to the area of security.

By Sharon Austin

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