Jamaica Editorial endorses Sir Ronald's comments
Friday 28 February 2014
Keeping our fingers crossed that PetroCaribe won't be scuttled
Friday, February 28, 2014
PRESIDENT Nicolas Maduro is no Hugo Chávez. However, based on news coming out of Venezuela yesterday, it is clear that Mr Maduro is being buoyed by the popularity that the late President Chávez enjoyed among the masses.
An Associated Press report tells us that, while it is difficult to find toilet paper or flour in Venezuela these days, and inflation is among the highest worldwide, the political Opposition is frequently outmanoeuvred and "hasn't united behind a single strategy or managed to broaden its appeal beyond the largely middle-class, educated followers it's had on its side all along".
Add to that the fact that President Maduro has the backing of the military and, like his predecessor, has near complete control of broadcast media and institutions from congress to the judiciary, and you get the picture of a head of government whom it will be difficult to unseat.
However, President Maduro cannot ignore the cries of his people, for it is not only those in the opposition who are subjected to the hardships.
It is against that background that we hope Caricom leaders have taken note of the advice offered by former Caribbean diplomat and Sunday Observer columnist, Sir Ronald Sanders, this week.
Sir Ronald, in his February 23 column, discussed the need for Caribbean governments that now benefit from the PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela to start adjusting their budgets to reflect a loss of benefits now derived from the oil arrangement.
As Sir Ronald so correctly pointed out, it will be difficult for President Maduro "to continue the largesse of PetroCaribe" which was implemented by Mr Chávez.
Inflation, Sir Ronald pointed out, is now at 56 per cent; the Government's budget deficit is almost 50 per cent; rating agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's have downgraded Venezuelan bonds to junk status; and the bolivar fuerte has weakened steeply against the US dollar moving on the black market from roughly 8 to 1 a year ago to 87 to 1 now.
To make matters worse, the country is experiencing food shortages and foreign currency restrictions imposed by the Government which has angered many Venezuelans.
We would not be surprised, therefore, if President Maduro has a rethink of the PetroCaribe arrangement in a genuine attempt at addressing some of the social and economic problems affecting his country.
And, given information from inside the Venezuelan Government, shared with Sir Ronald, that in many Caribbean countries the loan component of the agreement has not been used for the social programmes for which Mr Chávez intended it, we could not blame the Venezuelans if President Maduro is influenced to call a halt to PetroCaribe.
Naturally, in our current situation, Jamaica would suffer a terrible blow if the PetroCaribe deal was to be scuttled, and we are keeping our fingers crossed it won't be.
But, just in case that's not enough, Sir Ronald has offered to Caribbean governments a few suggestions to soften any such blow. They would be wise to take his advice... just in case.
Saturday 22 February 2014
A new commentary has been posted, It is entitled: Petro Caribe: are Caribbean countries prepared for the worst? The beneficiary Caribbean governments of Venezuela's Petro Caribe have much for which to thank Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, but they would be imprudent if they did not now begin to make adjustments to their budgets for a transition from dependence on Petro Caribe to buying oil on the international market. They would be sensible to approach the Caribbean Development Bank for technical advice on how to alter their financial circumstances to make the transition and to propose ways in which such a transition could be accomplished with the least amount of inevitable pain; pain which would be more desirable than calamity.
Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezeula
The previous commentary is:Too black to be Prime Minister: the shackles of mental slavery. That in 2014, almost two centuries after slavery was abolished with all the shades of colour that made slaves more valuable only according to the whims of slave owners, complexion still preoccupies the minds of persons who hold (or held) offices of state, is a tragic commentary on those persons. It ignores the reality of dark-complexioned people leading in fields such as the judiciary, medicine, education, science and technology, and sport. It is worse that the perceived stigma of “dark complexion” alarms members of the PNM for that political party has always been seen as representing predominantly black people.
Dr Keith Rowley, leader of the Opposition of Trinidad and Tobago
New Interview on The Future of the Commonwealth
Monday 17 February 2014
Interviews at the 2014 Post-CHOGM event - Sir Ronald Sanders talking with Stuart Mole about the future prospects of the Commonwealth. The entire interview can be seen (and the transcript read) at:
New Paper: The Commonwealth After Colombo
Thursday 30 January 2014
A new paper has been posted: The Commonwealth after Colombo: Can it Become Meaningful Again? Sir Ronald Sanders - a Member, Eminent Persons Group (2010–11), and Senior Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London Published online: 27 Jan 2014.
The paper can be read in the "Lectures and Interviews" section of this website under "Lectures"
Sunday 19 January 2014
Transcript of an after-dinner presentation given by Sir Ronald Sanders on 9 January 2014 at the Round Table Post-CHOGM Conference, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
“All but those in denial admit that the Commonwealth is now a wounded organisation. It is facing questions related not only to its meaning, but also to its existence. Over the next two years, the Commonwealth can mark time sleepwalking into irrelevance or it can make use of the present existential threat to prepare the ground for a substantial and meaningful re-launch at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta”.
Read more at: