Dominica is among three countries in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which were excluded from a United States visa renewal waiver programme.
Under the policy, citizens who reside in the approved countries will not have to travel to Barbados to renew their US visas.
So far, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis have been approved for the waiver in the OECS while Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines were excluded.
This means that Dominicans who want to renew their US visas must travel to Barbados.
The exclusion is not sitting well with Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan who believes that Dominica was not included because of how the island voted on the Venezuelan issue at the OAS recently.
Dominica supported Venezuela as the US seeks to expel Caracas from the regional body and take other measures against the Spanish speaking country.
“It is punitive because they did not follow the call or instructions of the United States. I assume that there is something perverse about that,” Astaphan said on Point F.M-a radio station in Antigua and Barbuda owned by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Astaphans said it would be unfair for Dominica to vote against Venezuela, a country that he said has been a loyal friend to the Nature Isle.
“Had it not been for Venezuela, we would have had some serious dislocation in Dominica with the world recession. They helped us. We cannot be ungrateful,” he said.
Astaphans said Dominica took the position (to support Venezuela) under serious diplomatic pressure.
He said the US should not punish Dominica because of that.
Meantime Antigua’s Prime Minister Browne said over the weekend that it is “a little strange” that the United States excluded Antigua and the two other OECS countries from its visa renewal waiver programme.
In fact, he questioned the decision to grant three OECS states the waiver and not the others.
Prime Minister Browne did not comment on why the US took the position.