It was with horror that DA’91 witnessed the total escalation of the situation in Venezuela. The threat of an economic and humanitarian disaster has now become reality in the neighbouring country. Reactions of our neighbouring countries, such as Brazil, and international organizations such as the UN did not take long to be presented.
Many months ago DA’91 already foresaw this kind of an escalation. Often we have stated that the Venezuelan problem is not limited and categorized as an internal problem, because it will turn into a threat for the peace and security of the whole region. That is why more than once we called upon the Surinamese government to contribute toward preventing the current situation.
In partnership with SPA, DA’91 even presented a formal protest to the embassy of Venezuela in Paramaribo. An action that caused panic at the embassy and the ambassador did not dare to receive the delegation. In this letter of protest once again it was insisted that free, fair and legally valid elections be held in Venezuela in order to allow the people of Venezuela the liberty to judge the undemocratic and corrupt leadership of Nicolas Maduro.
However, the behaviour of the Surinamese government remained unchanged and it stubbornly continued to vote against any proposal with the aim to force the Venezuelan government to restore and respect democracy and rule of law, in regional organizations such as the OAS (during one of the last voting sessions Suriname abstained).
Now that the situation has completely escalated the government of Suriname remains silent.
This attitude is the result of the fact that President Bouterse has a personal admiration for the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.
While we witness that more and more countries in the region openly express their disapproval and sharp rejection for the regime in Venezuela, by for example not participating in organizations where Venezuela leads, Suriname remains quiet.
And in those rare occasions that the issue of Venezuela has to be discussed, the facts are unscrupulously denied, as can be seen in the excerpts hereunder:
• In August 2017 President Bouterse made a quick stop in Venezuela during which occasion he expressed support to the people and government of Venezuela. Upon his return Bouterse told the National Assembly of Suriname that the government has its own position when it comes to the developments in Venezuela. “I am not here to defend Venezuela but the scenarios starting from Argentina to most recently Brazil and also Suriname… I know this thing Chair. I know it”, Bouterse said. With this the president tried to insinuate as if foreign entities/powers created the political, humanitarian and social-economic chaos in Venezuela.
• The Venezuelan minister of foreign affairs, Jorge Arreaza, visited President Bouterse in February 2018, at which time it was agreed that the current agreements in the area of the fisheries sector, the PetroCaribe deal and the rice sector would be kept/fulfilled.
You have to ask yourself: What is the fascination of Bouterse to keep on supporting and praising an illegitimate regime that is seen as, and accused of supporting illegal drug trade and whitewashing of money?
It is a fact that the government of Suriname as well as the government of Venezuela is on the rocks. Services rendered and goods delivered are not being paid for. The Venezuelan government tries to escape and cover up its financial responsibilities and the hyperinflation by introducing a crypto coin to replace the Bolivar, which has become almost no value anymore.
Bouterse, at the same time, has maneuvered Suriname into a financial chaos. Through his personal expressions of support, into which he has also dragged the republic of Suriname, the government of Bouterse shows a total disregard for the disadvantageous political and other consequences for Suriname as a country, from countries that through tough trade and political sanctions against Venezuela, want to compel that country to restore democracy.
We, DA’91, have repeatedly pointed out that the voting behaviour of Suriname will have consequences for Suriname. The majority of countries in our region stand for democracy and rule of law. As a country this voting behaviour brands us a supporter of repressive regimes and in fact makes us complicit in the ongoing human rights violations, the worsening humanitarian and financial-economic crisis in Venezuela. That this can have serious and long-lasting consequences for our community is undeniable.
When, on August 20, 2018, President Macri of Argentina voiced his intentions to take Venezuela to the ICC for human rights violations and is supported by the governments of Columbia, Chile and Paraguay, this says a lot! It will be the first time in history that a party to the Statute of Rome accuses a country that is also party to the Statute. An action of profound significance!
DA’91 demands that the Surinamese government finally takes a stands in line with the long-term interest of the Surinamese community, in the interest of harmony and peace in the region and in line with the international standards for democracy, human rights and rule of law. We demand that the Surinamese government formulates a position whereby it expresses loud and clear its condemnation of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Angelic C. del Castilho
Chair, Democratic Alternative91 (DA’91)