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Ecuador and SVG’s foreign policy

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Yet another step in the painstaking effort of national recovery following the unforgettable “Christmas floods” of December 2013, took place on Monday of this week in the Vermont Valley. There, the spanning of the Buccament River by the Hope bridge was effected by a team of army engineers from the South American country of Ecuador, incidentally the world’s largest banana exporter.{{more}}

The new bridge, construction of which began in October last year, was needed because the integrity of the original bridge had been compromised as a result of the floods. Other bridges in Kakarta, Fitzhughes and Top Sharpes, Chateaubelair, similarly affected by the Christmas disaster, are also being constructed by the Ecuadorian military team.

The spanning was a meticulous engineering feat and when complete, the new bridge will be three times the length of the original one and provide for two-lane traffic, as against the original single-lane, as well as a pedestrian sidewalk. Ancillary engineering works will complement the project which is scheduled for completion by June of this year.

It will help to reinforce national infrastructure, severely damaged by the events of December 2013, facilitate better communication and enhance the recovery efforts, all necessary for production and productivity.

All praise is due to the Ecuadorian team of Army Engineers (EACE) who have worked so hard on the projects. Their assistance represents another example of the value of what is globally referred to as “South-South cooperation”. Over the years countries like ours have relied on support and assistance from our “traditional friends” in the West. However with the advent of independence, our governments have been able to widen the scope of cooperation and benefit from the solidarity of non-traditional countries like Ecuador.

It has enabled successive governments to build new relationships with countries from the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and Latin America, whilst maintaining long-standing friendships. The ULP government in particular, has placed great store in widening its foreign policy options.

This has resulted in unfair criticism in some quarters, especially from some who should know better. Worse, some of these have even stirred up hostility towards persons and countries who are giving our country and its people selfless assistance.

The Ecuadorians have suffered in this regard with one parliamentarian going so far as to use scare-mongering tactics about “men in military uniforms”. Not only was this ridiculous, but it also smacks of dishonesty, for we have had other military personnel from western countries, engaged in civilian reconstruction efforts here.

The Hope bridge and the others in the North Leeward area provide the best rebuff to the misleading propaganda. That propaganda went as far as to question why our country is pursuing cooperation with Ecuador, when it had been one of the countries on the other side of our “banana battles” . Yet leading that battle against us was one of our biggest and closest friends, the United States of America.

We must rise above these cheap shots and be open-minded enough to realize that in today’s world, such relations and solidarity as exhibited by Ecuador are necessary and the only enlightened path in international relations.

At the completion of their work, SVG must say a big thank you to the government and people of Ecuador and particularly to its hard working engineers. We are a people who recognize the value of gratitude.

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