Thursday 12 December, 2019

PM to attend CARICOM meeting with UN over Venezuela crisis

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and CARICOM chairman and Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, will be meeting with the United Nations on Monday in New York to address the political crisis in Venezuela.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Dr Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago along with other CARICOM nations have maintained a position of non-interference in accordance with CARICOM policies.

Dr Rowley said he leaves on Sunday for New York where they will seek a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday and meetings in Washington on Tuesday.

Dr Rowley spoke out against Opposition's support of Maduro's political rival Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim-president of Venezuela during a march involving tens of thousands in Caracas on January 23, 2019.

“In the innocence of appearing to support the oppressed in Venezuela, soon after, it immediately ratcheted to something far more dangerous and that is the selection and apparent attempt to put in office an individual who claimed political and executive leadership of Venezuela.”

“In any part of the world and in any country, this would be a dangerous development, because the distance between that as a motion carried and an exaltation from a powerful country and putting it into action is one fraught with all kinds of danger which can only worsen an already bad situation,” he said.

He said Venezuela has serious internal problems but it is not the business of Trinidad and Tobago “or those who have given themselves an authority, to walk into Venezuela by force to fix their internal problems”.

That approach is forbidden by the OAS Charter and is forbidden by the US Doctrine…we have never taken the position of bringing about the regime change of governments we don’t likeunless of course such people in such governments engage in acts of genocide. Political issues are for political dialogue and a reduction in tensions until the dialogue bears fruit,” he said.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she and Opposition members support Guaido’s claim to the presidency.

The US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago issued a statement immediately after the briefing, calling Maduro’s presidency ‘undemocratic and illegitimate’ and pointing to government’s support of Maduro as ‘deeply concerning’.

Dr Rowley on Opposition: Talk is cheap

Dr Rowley disregarded the comments of critics saying ‘talk is cheap’.

“The statement by the Opposition ought to be seen for what it is: the reckless undermining of government’s effort in treating with a particularly difficult situation.”

He also rubbished claims that government was avoiding a difficult situation through its position of non-interference.

“Talk is cheap but walking that minefield calls for leadership and this government has provided that leadership so that today we can speak to Caracas, we can speak to London, and we hold to our position because we have not taken sides,”

“As the Opposition has taken sides that is for them to do. It is not the first time that they have taken decisions that are detrimental to the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

Dr Rowley said however that government continues to support Guyana’s claims regarding a dispute over maritime boundaries with Venezuela.

“Guyana knows it can count on us…that Trinidad and Tobago supports the Guyanese position,” he said.

He also refuted claims that Trinidad and Tobago's government is ignoring a humanitarian crisis involving Venezuelan refugees in Trinidad and Tobago.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. We are currently actively bringing to the Parliament the legislation that is required to handle this situation," he said.

“It’s an ongoing situation and every day brings new challenges. Last night CARICOM dealt with a lot of issues. Monday we expect to meet with the UN and continue with the issues moving forward,” he said.

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