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Monday 25 March 2019
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Abdulah: US must not bully TT

In this December 5, 2018 file photo US Ambassador Joseph Mondello, second from right,  Commander for US Southern Command, Admiral Craig S Fuller, National Security Minister Stuart Young, second from left, and Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard of the Defence Force at the Caribbean Nations Security Conference, Hyatt, Port of Spain.
In this December 5, 2018 file photo US Ambassador Joseph Mondello, second from right, Commander for US Southern Command, Admiral Craig S Fuller, National Security Minister Stuart Young, second from left, and Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard of the Defence Force at the Caribbean Nations Security Conference, Hyatt, Port of Spain.

MSJ political leader David Abdulah has commended Government for not allowing itself to be bullied by the US government, even as former former foreign affairs minister Dr Suruj Rambachan yesterday described the Prime Minister’s war of words with the US ambassador over Venezuela as “very concerning”.

In a statement released by the US Embassy on Friday, US Ambassador Joseph Mondello said the US recognised leader of Venezuela's National Assembly Juan Guaido as the country's interim president, while Government said it recognises the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

Mondello found Government's position to "be deeply concerning" as he described Maduro's administration as “undemocratic and illegitimate".

However, Dr Rowley said he took “umbrage” to the statement saying TT will not be among those prepared to take specific action to bring about regime change in Venezuela and will not be dictated by news releases made by other countries on TT's position.

Abdulah defended the PM saying the US ambassador was being “fast and out of place to criticise the foreign policy position of the sovereign state of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by the 'bully in chief' Donald Trump and his big stick, imperialist and war mongering stance,” he said.

Rambachan yesterday said the Rowley government has taken sides in the Venezuelan impasse and this may have prompted the US response.

“The Foreign Affairs Minister went to the inauguration of Maduro and the Government has declared that Maduro is the one in office although there are two constituent assemblies in Venezuela.”

“TT now has to be very careful, we are a sovereign nation and we have to protect our sovereignty at all times and not to be swayed unnecessarily by what might appear to be political pressure, but at the same time the US is an important trading partner and important political ally and I think the response of Dr Rowley in the Parliament where he took umbrage to the statement of the US ambassador is also cause for concern. The US ambassador said what he said but you must also have a diplomatic way to respond to him and responding with aggression, as what Dr Rowley did, is not the right way to go.”

Rambachan said the Venezuelan impasse must be resolved “as quickly as possible by an intervention involving the UN, the OAS and Caricom.

“What we do not want is the threat of war or even a cold war existing in our region again, especially as close as it is, to the borders of TT.”

Rambachan said Government did not have appropriate policies in place to deal with the humanitarian crisis as Venezuelans continue to flee to other countries, including TT, seeking food and medicines.

However, Abdulah criticised the stance taken by the UNC saying the Opposition’s endorsement of Guaido was done to “curry favour with the US in order to get their support for the UNC to win the next elections.”

“We condemn the UNC’s position which is totally contrary to that of Caricom and dangerously seeks to undermine regional consensus on this very sensitive issue. By its position, the UNC has firmly placed itself in the camp of right wing politics in the hemisphere – US, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia and others.”

Abdulah said the crisis has to be resolved “not by military intervention or by force but rather by diplomatic means” as the Caribbean must be a zone of peace” saying any civil war will see a “human crisis far worse than that of the economic problems that Venezuelans currently experience.”

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