Thursday 13th September, 2018-Government has categorically stated that it won’t compromise its relationship with Venezuela in order to be placed on a visa renewal waiver list.
Cabinet says it is firmly persuaded that the exclusion of Antigua and Barbuda is connected to the friendship which the three states, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have developed with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Further, the decision by these three states to adhere to the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of member-states has been identified as the principal reason.
During today’s post-cabinet press briefing, Government’s Chief of Staff, Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst was asked whether government intends to seek an audience with embassy officials to hear directly from them the reasons behind the omission and to make a case for the country to be included in the waiver.
According to the government, it is unwilling to compromise its relationship with Venezuela, a country that has contributed significantly to Antigua and Barbuda’s development, which dates back several decades.
Cabinet noted that the USA remains a very important ally of Antigua and Barbuda, citing that the country has been extremely helpful to Antigua and Barbuda as far back as 1967 when the US EXIM Bank provided a loan to construct the first deepwater harbour. They have also assisted in the training of military and police personnel and work with drug interdiction in the Caribbean Sea. But Cabinet noted the USA cannot compel Antigua and Barbuda to act in a manner inimical to Antigua and Barbuda’s interests, and contrary to good international law.
Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis were all granted waivers for visa renewals last week, meaning applicants will no longer be required to travel to Bridgetown to complete the visa renewal process. They will be able to do so via courier service and online.