- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2000

A poor neighbor helps

Guyana, one of the poorest countries in South America, is gathering relief supplies for Venezuela to help that nation recover from last month's killer storms, Guyanese Ambassador Ali Odeen Ishmael said yesterday.
"There is a tremendous outpouring of support. The donations are coming from the people," he told Embassy Row. "We're very poor, but we're neighbors."
Mr. Ishmael also said his country is repaying the generosity Venezuela showed last year when it supplied aid during a severe drought in Guyana.
The Guyanese government approved $83,000 in aid last month, but the ambassador said the total amount of government and private aid probably amounts to double that.
Guyana is a country with per capita income of about $2,000, while the income is more than $8,000 in Venezuela
Mr. Ishmael, in a speech last month to the Organization of American States, said his country would not stand by while Venezuela suffered. Mudslides, torrential rains and floods that began Dec. 15 claimed 50,000 lives and left 250,000 homeless. The Venezuelan Embassy and its eight consulates have collected more than $23 million in donated supplies in the United States, which included the use of eight helicopters and seven planes for rescue operations.
"I wish on behalf of the government and people of Guyana to offer our deepest sympathy to the government and people of Venezuela on the tragic loss of the thousands of its citizens caused by the horrific flooding disaster that has bludgeoned the country," Mr. Ishmael said in his remarks to the OAS.
"Venezuela needs all the international help it can get to try to overcome the effects of the disaster.
"This horrible tragedy that has struck Venezuela, our neighbor, is unfolding more and more each day… . Guyanese are deeply concerned over the tragedy that has affected our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. We cannot stand aloof from this disaster."
The ambassador recalled the assistance Guyana received from Venezuela to alleviate droughts brought by the El Nino weather patterns last year.
"Now it is our neighbor's hour of need," he said.
"Our hearts are wrenched with sad feelings for the people of Venezuela, especially those in the disaster zone," he added.
"But the knowledge that the international community … is consolidating a humanitarian effort to render assistance will certainly inspire hope," he said. "Our brothers and sisters in Venezuela must hold on to this message of hope as they work to build back their lives."

Aid to Colombia

Curtis Kamman, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, said this week that a U.S. congressional delegation is visiting the country to discuss ways to help fight drug trafficking and to aid Colombia's peace process.
Mr. Kamman said the delegation met Saturday with Colombian Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez to discuss "the needs and possibilities of collaboration with Colombia."
President Andres Pastrana has asked the United States for $1.5 billion to support his war on illegal drugs, to promote peace talks with rebels and to stimulate the economy.
The delegation is led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Floyd D. Spence, South Carolina Republican. It includes Bob Clement, Tennessee Democrat; Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, Alabama Democrat; John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican; Tillie Fowler, Florida Republican; Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas Democrat; and Owen B. Pickett, Virginia Democrat.

Troubleshooter to CSIS

J. Stephen Morrison was a sort of diplomatic troubleshooter for Africa issues at the State Department, where he was in charge of the crisis zones of Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
He also dealt with the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria and coordinated U.S. efforts to curb arms trafficking and diamond smuggling that helped finance guerrilla wars.
Mr. Morrison (no relation to this columnist) will soon bring his skills to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he will direct its Africa program.
"Steve Morrison brings an exceptional combination of executive and legislative branch experience to CSIS," said think tank President Richard Fairbanks.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide