Foreign Minister Brantley (left to right) with Charge d’affaires Joes Olavarria and Sir Tapley.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- St. Kitts and Nevis and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations which the two countries established October 31, 1983.

Mrs. Sonia Boddie-Thompson, Foreign Service Officer and Desk Officer for Venezuela in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, chaired the proceedings. The event was attended by high ranking dignitaries including His Excellency the Governor General, Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton, GCMG, CVO, JP, QC; Hon. Sen. Akilah Byron -Nisbett, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly; members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps.; staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation; and the Venezuelan Embassy.

Charge d’affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Jose Antonio Olavarria, highlighted the excellent bilateral relations characterizing “cordiality and understanding for years” and said “St. Kitts and Nevis is a fundamental partner to Venezuela”. Olavarria said Venezuela takes great pride in contributing to the development of the country. He said this is demonstrative in the fact that Venezuela’s two most recent presidents visited the Federation.

Olavarria said the relations acquired “a new dimension and the levels of cooperation and friendship became deeper,” after the election of the late President Commander Hugo Chavez Frias in 1999. This was as a result of the introduction of new integration schemes, which include the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA -TCP), the Energy Agreement of PetroCaribe, as well as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), from which the Federation has benefitted immensely. Acknowledging the importance of relationships, the Charge d’affaires recalled the word of the Liberator Simon Bolivar, declaring “Unity does everything, and therefore we must preserve this precious principle”.

The Charge d’affaires also underscored the positive impact the Venezuelan Institute for Culture and Cooperation has had on nationals and advised that during the upcoming year, dance classes will be introduced, coupled with other creative cultural initiatives.

Foreign Minister Brantley, thanked the government of Venezuela for not only being a diplomatic partner, but also for being a true friend to the government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis. Brantley praised Venezuela for being one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Federation, a mere six weeks after the country had attained Independence. He thanked Venezuela for helping the Federation in areas of socio-economic development.

Brantley listed a few socio-economic areas in which Venezuela has assisted the Federation:
• Several nationals received tertiary training in Venezuela in Farm Administration;
• Scores of nationals were transported to Cuba by Venezuelan aircraft to receive eye care treatments;
• Sixty two-bedroom condominium-style houses, now being built at Wellington Road with financing from PetroCaribe;
• Many entrepreneurs have started up or expanded their business due to the Fresh Start Program financed by a Venezuelan loan; and
• Today former sugar workers are very happy, after receiving their outstanding gratuities, due to an EC $16 million check from the government of Venezuela.”