United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has described as “troubling,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s recent visit to Venezuela.
Browne was in Venezuela this week for the formal induction of Antigua and Barbuda into ALBA Bank as a new member, as well as the signing of the Financing Agreement relating to the loan of US$15.8 million for injection into LIAT, according to a government statement.
But Durbin, in a tweet on Wednesday, said it was “troubling to see Antiguan Prime Minister Browne convey legitimacy to Maduro while he arrests & tortures his opposition & millions of Venezuelans flee in hunger & desperation. When will the proud democracies of our Caribbean neighbors stop enabling Maduro’s criminal regime?”
Venezuela, a South American nation of roughly 30 million people, is gripped by a deepening political and economic crisis.
People live with a nagging feeling that anything from violent street protests to a massive power failure could throw their lives into chaos at any moment.
More than 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, escaping low wages, broken hospitals, failing basic services and lack of security.
The International Monetary Fund says inflation is expected to hit a staggering 200,000 per cent this year.
Venezuela dropped five zeros from its currency last year in a futile attempt to keep up with inflation. Soaring prices quickly devoured the new denominations.
Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, was once rich. But the economy has fallen into ruin because of what critics say has been two decades of corruption and mismanagement under socialist rule.
President Maduro’s hold on power is under challenge from opposition politician Juan Guaido, who has the backing of the United States and more than 50 other countries that contend Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was crooked.