Amid the destruction and devastation of Category 5-ranked Hurricane Irma, Venezuela is sending over 10 tons of supplies to the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, in addition to a roster of rescue personnel.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, had spoken with the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro less than 24 hours before, requesting humanitarian aid.The Bolivarian National Armed Forces, FANB, transported 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel to the hurricane-struck islands, along with 10 tons of supplies and medicines. These supplies included 100 mattresses, more than 100 cases of medicine, 200 pairs of boots and 1200 cases of water.
"Prime Minister Gaston Browne … the first call he made was to Venezuela, because he knows that Venezuela is the first country that would respond to the call of its Caribbean brothers," Arreaza told reporters.
"We are doing something beautiful, that is to be able to help the brotherly peoples in the difficulties, this is the essence of the Bolivarian Revolution and of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA)," he added.
The Minister invoked the legacy of Simon Bolivar — remembered in Latin America and the world today as a champion of liberation and anti-colonial struggles — and his Jamaica Letter, as the reason why "Venezuela maintains solidarity with its sister nations."
"These are brotherly peoples who will always have the extended hand of Liberator Siman Bolívar, Commander Chavez and President Nicolás Maduro," he pressed.
Following the delivery, the President of Venezuela's National Consituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, declared, "Venezuela solidarity accompanies our brothers in Antigua and Barbuda in this hour of difficulty!"
Hurricane Irma has devastated almost 90 percent of both Barbuda and Antigua’s facilities, becoming one of the most powerful and longest lasting Category 5 storms ever recorded in the Atlantic.
"I would have cried because that (devastation) was so heart wrenching. I couldn't believe it," Browne told ABS news Wednesday. "It's one of the worst feelings I've ever felt in my entire life."
Venezuela has become the first country to send a brigade of civil protection and humanitarian aid to the islands.
Just weeks ago, Venezuela pledged to donate US$5 million to help with recovery efforts in areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey in the U.S. state of Texas. The country also provided free gas to rescue workers, firefighters and police in their efforts to help victims affected by the storm, through Citgo Holding Inc., a subsidiary of the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela. In addition, the firm has promised US$3 million in aid for the mayor of Houston's relief program.