(L-R) The Venezuelan Ambassador to Haiti, Pedro Antonio Canino Gonzales with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and President Michel Martelly
By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- The Venezuelan government has rejected comments made last week by a World Bank's envoy to Haiti, Mary Barton-Dock, who suggested that the Caribbean country's handling of Venezuelan-sponsored PetroCaribe funds lacked transparency.
The Venezuelan ambassador to Haiti, Pedro Antonio Canino Gonzales, called Barton-Dock's comment disrespectful and denounced the Bank's interference in bilateral Haitian-Venezuelan affairs and cooperation relationship.
"(Venezuelan) President Nicolas Maduro is very satisfied with the way the Haitian government has spent PetroCaribe funds," Canino told HCNN on Tuesday in a phone interview.
"It does not belong to the World Bank to determine whether the funds were well used or not," he said." This is simply insolent," Canino said.
Under the leadership of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, PetroCaribe was created in 2005 as an alliance allowing its member states to accumulate funds by purchasing oil from Venezuela at favourable rates and with easy payment plans.
The funds are used to finance projects and programs with social impact and a potential to create jobs and sustainable development.
In an article published last week by the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste, Barton-Dock was quoted as saying that there was a lack of transparency in the use of PetroCaribe funds by Haitian authorities.
Canino underlined the fact that "questions related to the cooperation between Venezuela and Haiti are only the responsibility of President Martelly, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, President Maduro and the populations of both countries."
Officials reminded that a group of Venezuelan experts conducted a 27-day audit of the PetroCaibe program, following which Maduro praised the Haitian government's management of the funds and transparency efforts.
"Our cooperation with Haiti is based on solidarity values and the respect of its sovereignty, but not on the imperialist mindset which consists in denying social empowerment for the vulnerable," Canino told HCNN.
Lamothe had already rejected last week Barton-Dock's comment he called unfair and unfounded.
A World Bank official in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince told HCNN the comments made by Barton-Dock were misinterpreted.
"I can tell you that the remarks by Mrs Barton-Dock were misinterpreted because there are things they say she said that she never said," explained the World Bank functionary who did not want to be named because of not being officially authorized to publicly comment on the issue.
The official promised to further inform HCNN on the issue shortly.