Saturday 23 March, 2019

Moses spotted at Maduro's inauguration: Gov't pledges support

Although the news was not initially publicised, government confirmed that Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dennis Moses, attended the inauguration of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro in Caracas.

Speaking at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Minister of Communications and National Security, Stuart Young, confirmed that Moses attended the inauguration of the controversial leader's second presidential term on Thursday.

(Photo: A screenshot from television coverage shared by journalist Kejan Haynes showed Moses at the inauguration. No official notice of his visit was given by government until questions were raised by Haynes on January 10, 2019.)

Asked whether this allegiance presented challenges with other allies such as the US and fellow CARICOM member Guyana, Young replied that Trinidad and Tobago remains a sovereign entity.

Yes the Minister has gone to the inauguration of Venezuela and we continue to have good relations with Venezuela.

“We are a sovereign nation and yes, you could take the answer from the Minister of Foreign and CARICOM affairs, going to represent the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at the inauguration today, that speaks for itself.

“We recognise the government of Venezuela and we stand as a neighbour, ready to assist in whatever way we can,” Young said.

When asked about the riff between CARICOM member, Guyana, and Venezuela over oil-rich maritime territory, Young said government’s policy at this time is one of non-intervention and non-interference.

“I don’t think it’s for us to side on anything. I think that at the end of the day there are international laws (which) should be respected, if there are disputes between neighbouring countries Trinidad (and Tobago), under this administration, our foreign policy is one of non-intervention and non-interference.”

“We are certainly not going to be the judge and jury with respect to any disputes between our neighbours,” he said.

Young also responded to questions on any possible conflict with the US, which has placed several sanctions on Venezuelan entities.

“At the end of the day as we’ve said to our friends and allies, and the United States is a very good friend and ally of Trinidad and Tobago, we are a sovereign nation."

“They understand that we are the closest country to Venezuela and therefore what goes on in Venezuela directly affects us."

"We are a very small nation, we continue to maintain our sovereignty, we’re very careful, we have commercial arrangements with Venezuela and we have commercial arrangements with the US, at the end of the day as far as I’m aware, and I’m certain it continues to be so, we have great relations with both countries,” he said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in to a second term as president of Venezuela amid international calls for him to step down and a devastating economic crisis.

A dozen Latin American governments and Canada in a coalition have rejected the legitimacy of Maduro's next term, and Washington has sanctioned top officials in his government.

According to a United Nations report in November 2018, the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela worldwide has now reached three million.

According to UN records, as of May 2018, there were approximately 40,000 Venezuelans living in Trinidad and Tobago, which has grown as many more attempt to enter the country fleeing starvation, crime, illness and more in Venezuela. 

Venezuela and Guyana are also in a decades-long dispute over maritime borders, with the most recent incident involving the Venezuelan navy's attempt to intercept an ExxonMobil vessel in the Stabroek Block.

The matter is now before the International Court of Justice.

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