OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has accused Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of adopting the approach of an Ostrich - burying his head in the sand - when it comes to the gathering storm in neighbouring Venezuela.
In a release yesterday, she reiterated her call for Rowley's resignation as she acknowledged long-standing diplomatic ties between TT and Venezuela.
She said it is no secret the Venezuelan people have been hit hard by economic decline, international sanctions, poverty, political instability and human rights concerns. Persad-Bissessar claimed the crisis has reached a level that international media reports say "a new wave of pirates" is sweeping the Caribbean to escape poverty in Venezuela.
She said a vote last week by the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) not to recognise the legitimacy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's second term in office, reflects Venezuela's growing isolation, regionally and internationally.
At that vote, Trinidad and Tobago abstained and later, in a trip not officially revealed by the government, Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses flew to Venezuela to represent the TT government at Maduro's inauguration in Caracas.
The United States, Colombia, Canada, Panama, Mexico and the European Union (EU) have all imposed sanctions against Venezuela. Persad-Bissessar said growing Russian military and economic presence in Venezuela has complicated matters. She also noted reports that Iran plans to send warships to Venezuela which is just seven nautical miles from Trinidad.
She was concerned these developments can have serious national security implications for TT, "as potentially destabilizing factors have been introduced into our geo-political situation." Persad-Bissessar said TT is "faced with the risk of diplomatic isolation given our ambiguity on Venezuela."
This can have consequences for citizens' long-term interest and economic survival, she warned. Persad-Bissessar also noted Caricom's concern about Venezuela’s non-participation in a case filed by Guyana with the International Court of Justice to clarify boundaries between the two countries.
She claimed Rowley and his administration are unable to provide "forthright and unambiguous leadership" on this issue.Persad-Bissessar demanded Rowley stop playing games with the country's future. "We will pay a significant price in the future if we do not manage our relations with Venezuela today," she warned.