CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC—-Prime Minister Kenny Anthony says his cabinet will engage in discussions to decide the merit of joining the Hugo Chavez led Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA).
Dr. Anthony was among a number of Eastern Caribbean leaders attending ALBA’s 11th summit in Venezuela last weekend where St. Lucia and Suriname were invited as “special guest members” as a prior step to their full entry.
Anthony said he made it clear at the summit that while St. Lucia would engage in discussions with a view to determine whether it would establish ties with ALBA, joining the organisation was not possible at this time.
“I explained that the process cannot commence due to political and constitutional considerations, and by that I meant that our Cabinet of Ministers would first have to consider the implications of joining ALBA.”
“However we are on record as having expressed interest in joining the Petrocaribe arrangement. You would recall that prior to the general elections of 2006, the then Cabinet of Ministers had given the nod to St. Lucia’s membership of Petrocaribe, of course that was not possible because general elections intervened,” he added.
Dr. Anthony said it was his hope that “very soon” his government will engage officials of Petrocaribe in discussions to determine the issue of membership.
“So as we see it, it is a two stage process, first St. Lucia will access the Petrocaribe initiative and then afterwards we will look at ALBA,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said countries like St Lucia are facing the harsh reality of declining aid sources.
He stressed that the island had very few friends in a difficult and complex world and it must now search for alternative funds for development purposes.
“It is going to be critical and crucial that St. Lucia look for new opportunities of support and in particular for Governments who are willing to assist the development of the country.
“So we have to be busy, we have to search for new sources of funding and it is in that context that we have to look at organisations like ALBA as an option.
“But as of now we are not members and cannot be members until such time that our Cabinet of Ministers has made the determination,” Anthony said.
On its entry St. Lucia will join Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadinesand five Latin American member nations - Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua in the ALBA alliance.