NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday slammed attempts by the Opposition to create “fear about a change in relations between TT and the USA” about the crisis in Venezuela. At the United National Congress (UNC) national assembly in Couva on Sunday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar claimed TT could jeopardise its relations with the US because of the position on Venezuela taken by the Government.
She said 200,000 citizens have US tourist visas, and TT imports 70 per cent of its food from the US and exports $18.9 billion to the US annually. Persad-Bissessar also said TT received trade preferences amounting to $2.8 billion under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. She said TT’s waiver expired and the US congress had to approve its renewal.
In a statement, Young said this country continues to count the US “among its treasured partners.” He said Persad-Bissessar’s latest allegations are an “unfounded and a naked attempt to cover up” the “most recent overwhelming criticism of the Opposition.” Young reiterated that TT, Caricom and many other countries took an identical position of non-interference and non-intervention with respect to Venezuela, and condemned what he called Persad-Bissessar’s efforts to undermine TT’s position “particularly at this time of sensitive negotiations.”
The Prime Minister is part of a Caricom delegation in New York for talks with UNSecretary-General António Guterres. The talks focus on the potential threat the Venezuelan situation poses to regional security, social and economic disruption.
Last Friday, Dr Rowley said TT will not be dictated to by any other country about regime change in Venezuela.
UNC MP Rodney Charles supported Persad-Bissessar, accusing Rowley of engaging in “pavement diplomacy,” and claiming Rowley is at the UN “seeing about Maduro’s business.”
Charles also claimed TT is “wedded irrevocably” through Caricom to the principle of non-intervention, and TT’s national interest demands that this country does not “escalate the war with the US, or the EU, or Canada, or Colombia, or Peru on this matter.” All of these countries have expressed support for Guaido.
US Ambassador to TT Joseph Mondello has expressed concern over TT’s recognising the “undemocratic and illegitimate government of Nicolas Maduro.”