Statement in the Senate
Senator the Honorable A.J. Nicholson QC
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Visa-Free Travel to Bermuda
Before reporting on the visit to Caracas by the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister, I would like to advise this Honourable Chamber of some good news that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade received yesterday in relation to travel by Jamaican nationals to Bermuda.
The Bermudan authorities have announced a number of changes to their visa regime which apply also to Jamaican nationals. With effect from 1st March 2014, Jamaican nationals travelling to Bermuda for tourism, business or on a work permit, will no longer require a visa or visa waiver to enter Bermuda, provided that they are holding a multiple entry visa to USA, Canada or the UK.
Jamaican nationals who hold such multiple entry visas for the USA, Canada or the UK must be careful to ensure that the visas are valid for a minimum of 45 days after the expiry of the planned stay in Bermuda. They must also ensure that their Jamaican passports have a validity of at least 45 days after the expiry of their planned stay.
This is indeed a welcome development for Jamaicans who propose to visit Bermuda, and comes just a few weeks after I had signed with the Foreign Minister of Brazil in Kingston, an agreement to facilitate the visa free travel of Jamaican nationals to that country.
Visit of Prime Minister to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
I am pleased to advise that Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica visited Caracas on Wednesday, 5th March 2014 as a specially invited guest of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. The purpose of the visit was to participate in the activities arranged by the Government of Venezuela to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of former President Hugo Chavez. The Prime Minister was accompanied on the one-day visit by Senator the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
In recognition of the late President’s efforts to strengthen alliances within Latin America and the Caribbean, and given the special relationship which he enjoyed with some leaders and countries, selected Heads of State were invited to the events. In this regard, in attendance were the Presidents of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Suriname, as well as the Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Dominica, Guyana, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Foreign Ministers of Cuba, Ecuador and Haiti were also present.
The events attended by the Heads of State and Government marked the beginning of a 10-day period of official activities to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of the former President. The programme of activities on 5th March in Caracas comprised a joint civilian-military parade; an ecumenical service and mass; and a private gathering attended by President Maduro, senior officials of the Venezuelan government, members of the Chavez family and specially invited guests, which was held at the mausoleum where the remains of the former President are located.
At the private gathering, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller paid tribute to President Chavez on behalf of the beneficiaries of the PetroCaribe Initiative. She spoke of President Chavez’ vision and generosity in spearheading the PetroCaribe initiative which has brought significant benefits to the economies in the region, particularly at a time when they were under tremendous strain as a result of developments in the international economy. She also spoke of President Chavez’ commitment to the integration process and mentioned in particular, his embrace of the Caribbean as an important partner in the transformation of the region. The Jamaican Prime Minister recalled the special love and affection that President Chavez had for those who were marginalised or downtrodden and recalled the words of Jamaica’s national hero, the Rt. Excellent Marcus Garvey in describing the “hellish” state of the poor. She recalled that Chavez, through his leadership, had sought to eradicate poverty through a number of far-reaching social programmes and initiatives. The Prime Minister thanked President Maduro for continuing the legacy of former President Chavez and stated that Jamaica would continue to uphold his vision for the most vulnerable sections of society to be protected and assisted.
Tributes were also paid by President Evo Morales of Bolivia on behalf of ALBA and by President Desire Bouterse of Suriname, in his capacity as Chairman of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
In his response, President Maduro acknowledged the importance of continuing the legacy of the former President. He described the former President as a leader who was authentic and loved and who respected the poor.
The visit by Prime Minister Simpson-Miller underscored Jamaica’s respect for the life and legacy of President Chavez and emphasized our commitment to strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation that have united Jamaica and Venezuela over the years. It also served to underline Jamaica’s appreciation of the commitment of Venezuela to south-south cooperation and integration and to the transformation of Latin America and the Caribbean into a pole of influence and prosperity in the global community.
Travel to Venezuela was facilitated by the Government of Venezuela which sent a plane to Kingston for the purpose.