THE Prime Minister yesterday defended his government's approach towards the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Dr Rowley made no comment on TT being one of eight countries to abstain from the Organisation of American States (OAS) vote not to recognise the legitimacy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's new term in office.
But Dr Rowley rejected the Opposition Leader's claim that government strategy to deal with the Venezuela crisis was jeopardising TT's geo-political and economic future. He said he was aware of only three instances in recent times when "TT's interests were jeopardised on foreign and Caricom affairs."
All three instances happened under the former People's Partnership government. The first instance, Rowley said, was when then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told Caricom TT was not their "piggy bank." The second instance, Rowley continued, was when "we allowed the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) to be dropped from the regional agenda in 2011."
Caricom leaders held a special meeting on CSME in Port of Spain last month. At that meeting, a decision was taken to expand the categories of workers who qualified under the CSME. Rowley identified the third instance as being when TT's former permanent ambassador to the United Nations Rodney Charles held a meeting with controversial French presidential candidate Marie Le Pen, when she visited New York.
He said TT was "shamed and severely embarrassed" when against all understanding and advice, Charles went to lunch with Le Pen. Rowley said Le Pen was shunned by every other country at that time, except TT"who sold out its self-respect for a meal in a restaurant."
Efforts to contact Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses for comment on TT's decision to abstain on the vote at the OAS last Thursday, were unsuccessful. On that day, 19 countries supported the resolution not to support the legitimacy of Maduro's presidency.
Moses attended Maduro's inauguration in Caracas last Thursday. At last Thursday's post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, Communications Minister Stuart Young said it had long been TT’s policy to recognise the legitimacy of Maduro’s regime. He said Moses' presence at Maduro's inauguration, speaks for itself.