THE Prime Minister says the decision to abstain on a vote by the Organisation of American States to not recognise the legitimacy of the presidency of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was done in the country’s interest.
“We put the interest of the people of TT as paramount at all times. Not voting yea or nay as others have done we maintained in the presence of large, small, powerful and weak, that TT is a sovereign and we are free to make that decision and we make it in our own interest.”
Dr Rowley was speaking during a media conference held at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Thursday.
Asked if he was concerned about the response of the US and other allies (who had not recognised the legitimacy of Maduro’s controversial re-election) Rowley said: “We have friends all over the world. You mentioned one – the US. Our major trading partner. We have a 100,000 people in Brooklyn, you don’t get closer than that. But the decision as to what happens with TT’s vote is a matter for the Government and the people of TT. And the Government represents the people and votes in the people’s best interest.”
Asked about concerns the vote was inconsistent with the presence of Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dennis Moses at Maduro’s inauguration Rowley responded with a question: “Who is the government of Venezuela? Who is in charge of Venezuela? So why are you pretending it is not so? TT has very good neighbourly relations with Venezuela notwithstanding with may be happening in Venezuela as we do with Brazil, Guyana and the US. So one doesn’t cancel out the other.”
He said TT has an embassy in Venezuela and they have one in TT.
“We have that good relationship. That event of the swearing in of a president – we are not the elections and boundaries commission in Venezuela and we are not to be encouraged to do otherwise than to be a good neighbour to all our neighbours. It is not an either or situation.”
In the Caribbean Jamaica, St Lucia, Haiti, Bahamas, and Guyana, along with 14 other members, voted for the OAS resolution denying the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency and calling for a new presidential election with international observers. Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against while TT, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Belize abstained.
Yesterday, Rowley also spoke on the Dragon gas deal saying it was not with Maduro but with Venezuela. “You know how long Venezuela has been talking about LNG? You know how long they discover that gas there? So whether Maduro is in office or not that is not the issue. It is Venezuelan gas for Venezuelan people. So we got the point to having a heads of government agreement between Venezuela and TT. Not Maduro and Rowley, it is Venezuela and TT. And that project will bring revenue to the people of Venezuela.”
He said the opposition in Venezuela had not given a commitment to stop the project if they came to power because they would not cut off a supply of revenue that is really needed.
“Only the UNC could think that.”
He said there was no secrecy in the deal as the Opposition had claimed and pointed out the media was taken to Venezuela for the signing. Rowley also said the gas price was a trade secret and was not for public consumption. He added, however, that it was a good price for the people of Venezuela and the people of TT.