Ambassador Cornelis recalled
By Lara Pickford-Gordon and Clint Chan Tack Friday, August 10 2012
IN what must be one of the shortest stints for a diplomat, Therese Baptiste-Cornelis was yesterday fired as Ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva. She served for about one year.
In a brief statement, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran “informs that the tour of duty of Her Excellency Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Geneva, will come to an end in September 2012, and she has been recalled to headquarters (Port-of-Spain).”
However when asked at the post-Cabinet news conference to confirm this statement, Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed did not say Baptiste-Cornelis had been fired from her post.
“Ambassador Cornelis will be returning to Trinidad and Tobago on September 3 for discussions with the line minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and at that time you will get further details,” he told reporters at the briefing which was held at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.
Pressed by reporters as to whether the decision to recall Baptiste-Cornelis was taken by the Cabinet, or by Dookeran alone, Mohammed replied, “Ambassador Therese Baptiste-Cornelis will be returning on September 3 for discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”
Asked a second time whether it was a Cabinet decision to recall Baptiste-Cornelis, Mohammed replied, “She was recalled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.” Mohammed was unable to indicate whether Cabinet had decided on who would replace Baptiste-Cornelis as Ambassador to Geneva.
On June 25 last, Newsday reported that former national security minister, Brigadier John Sandy had accepted a diplomatic posting. At that time, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar confirmed Sandy accepted a diplomatic posting,
but did not say where that posting was.
Sources told Newsday he accepted a post at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations Office at Geneva, located at Rue de Vermont, not far from scenic Lake Geneva. Sandy was replaced by Jack Warner as National Security Minister when Persad-Bissessar reshuffled the Cabinet on June 22.
In a 37-minute plus speech posted on the YouTube channel of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), Baptiste-Cornelis implied that she was fired as Health Minister by Persad-Bissessar in 2011 because she dared to take on doctors.
For the first time, she publically discussed how she ended up being handed the Health Ministry portfolio in 2010, noting she “taught the current Prime Minister” at the University of the West Indies.
In a lecture which was billed as being on the topic “Cultural Diversity as the Fourth Policy of Sustainable Development”, delivered on July 15 at the ICD, Baptiste-Cornelis also mentioned how she met her husband over the internet under the online profile name “Tropical Bear”, her sister’s fertility; her hatred of politics; her war with doctors, and the hypocrisy of modern day Trinidadians.
She revealed that she was asked to take up the Health Ministry portfolio 2010 in a 4.30 am phone-call from Persad-Bissessar hours before being sworn in on May 28.
“This is my first keynote speech since I became an Ambassador. I had thought that I stopped making speeches as I left being a minister, so it is nice to be here,” Baptiste-Cornelis is heard saying in the video after being introduced by a chairperson.
She continued, revealing that she got the job as minister largely because she had taught Persad-Bissessar at university.
“Now coming from an academic background, my stint in the political arena was pretty short,” she says. “I only entered the political arena because I taught the new Prime Minister, so the new Prime Minister wanted me to be part of her Government.”