22 stu­dents brought home from Venezuela

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Saint Lu­cian stu­dents who were awarded schol­ar­ships to study medicine in Venezuela are back home, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, In­no­va­tion, Gen­der Re­la­tions and Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment has said.

A state­ment is­sued by Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Es­ther Brath­waite said the stu­dents had to be brought home be­cause of ex­ist­ing con­di­tions in the Span­ish-speak­ing na­tion.

“The wel­fare of our stu­dents at any ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion is pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia,” Brath­waite as­serted. She dis­closed that the min­istry is ex­plor­ing other op­tions.

“Once the stu­dents sat­isfy the ma­tric­u­la­tion re­quire­ments of an ac­cred­ited univer­sity, the stu­dents will be able to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion,” the PS dis­closed.

Venezuela is suf­fer­ing the worst eco­nomic cri­sis in its his­tory. Or­di­nary peo­ple in the oil-rich coun­try are reg­u­larly go­ing with­out food. Three­quar­ter empty su­per­mar­kets are be­ing ran­sacked by an­gry, hun­gry mobs. The gov­ern­ment has de­clared a state of emer­gency, food is now be­ing trans­ported un­der armed guard, and ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties are be­ing ra­tioned. Peo­ple have to queue for hours and some­times overnight on their as­signed days to re­ceive sta­ples like rice and cook­ing oil.

The shadow of hunger, the des­per­a­tion of the crowds and the spread of un­rest and crim­i­nal­ity threaten the gov­ern­ment of Ni­colás Maduro, three years af­ter he was be­queathed power by the dy­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary strong­man, Hugo Chávez. The op­po­si­tion has launched a drive to can­vas sig­na­tures for a pe­ti­tion for him to step down. That will be a dif­fi­cult task in the face of a state-run elec­toral sys­tem de­ter­mined to thwart it, but the state may im­plode even if the re­call ref­er­en­dum fails.

Riot po­lice clash with res­i­dents of La Vega, a low-in­come neigh­bor­hood in Cara­cas, Venezuela ear­lier this month. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

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