Mexico’s Ambassador to the OECS Member States, Oscar Esparza-Vargas, says his government has fulfilled its commitment to the government and people of Dominica by allocating the promised resources for the construction of the Marigot Hospital.
Ambassador Esparza-Vargas was responding to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton while speaking during a debate on the Hospital Authority Bill in Parliament recently.
“I was the first individual to point out that Dominica had enough money from its Citizenship By Investment Program to build the hospital at Marigot and therefore did not need to be waiting indefinitely on the $13.5 million that has been promised by Mexico,” Linton stated.
In a letter sent to Dominica News Online (DNO), Esparza-Vargas seeks to clarify Linton’s statement which he says is inaccurate and “could lead to a misperception” detrimental to the image of Mexico in Dominica.
He explained that the Governments of Mexico and Dominica “subscribed in December, 2018, a Contract for the Donation of Resources for the project of construction of the Mexico-Marigot Hospital and in January, 2019, the Government of Mexico allocated the funds in the amount of US$5 million dollars ($13.5 million EC dollars), contracting the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as financial intermediary.”
That same year, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business and Diaspora Relations, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, during an interview on Kairi FM, attributed the delay in the construction of the hospital “partly to the bureaucracy associated with the donation from Mexico” and a shift in priorities following the passage of Hurricane Maria in September 2018.
“The process has been a long back and forth. [There are] documents to be signed, agreements to be signed…,” Darroux said. “After Hurricane Maria, priorities and focus were shifted.”
In an interview with DBS Radio in May 2019, Prime Minister Skerrit said the government was looking at the possibility of starting the Marigot Hospital with some of its own funds while working with the government of Mexico and the funds they had assigned to construct the hospital.
The Prime Minister, at the time, expressed concern about the schedule that had been submitted to the government by The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
In June 2019, Skerrit stated that the funds from Mexico had not yet been made available and indicated that money from the CBI Program would be used to construct the Marigot hospital.
“Utilizing the Citizenship By Investment Program to help finance the hospital, our hope is that we could utilize the five million US dollars from the Mexican government once they agree because they have to agree to help equip the hospital and so there will be no question about this government’s commitment to the hospital,” the prime minister said.
Ambassador Esparza-Vargas explains in his letter to DNO that “given the request for changes to the original project subscribed which contravened the terms of the Contract for the Donation of the Resources, in March, 2020, the Mexican Government requested the return of the resources.”
The letter goes on to state that the remaining funds were returned by UNOPS to the Mexican Government in August, 2020.
However, according to the Mexican Ambassador, the Government of Mexico has “reiterated its willingness to further continuing managing development cooperation projects with the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, following the relevant established procedures.”
Prime Minister Skerrit announced this week that construction work on the Marigot hospital is 95% complete.
Below is the full text of the letter from Ambassador Esparza-Vargas.