DIALOGUE is the only way TT can protect itself from any major fallout from the crisis in Venezuela. These were the views expressed by former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas and former foreign affairs minister Ralph Maraj yesterday.
With no military might and no economic strength in world affairs, Dumas said TT’s best bet was a negotiated resolution to the crisis. The Prime Minister expressed hope for such a resolution after a meeting between a Caricom delegation and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday. Dr Rowley was part of that delegation.
Should social unrest increase in Venezuela or there be some military action, Dumas said many Venezuelan refugees could flock to TT.
He said the Venezuelans who have come to TT since the crisis began are “economic migrants,” not refugees, explaining that refugees are people who flee a country for reasons such as political or ethnic persecution. He was concerned that successive governments have not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Dumas said, “We are caught because of our inertia.” Should Venezuelan refugees try to flood TT’s borders, he asked, “What are we to do?” He said there are questions over the legitimacy of Venezuela National Assembly president Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last week.
“Where does legitimacy lie?” Dumas asked. He also said the western media had ignored the large support which Maduro still commands inside Venezuela. “All of us are in a position of ignorance.” Dumas was not surprised by the US sanctions against Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
While he supported Caricom’s efforts, Maraj claimed those efforts “are woefully late.”
He believed Guaido has not been arrested because President Nicolas Maduro is afraid of the “significant response” which could come from the US.
Maraj said the sanctions against PDVSA could starve Venezuela’s military, and should Maduro lose the majority of the military’s support, he said, “The writing is on the wall.”
US Embassy officials said they had nothing further to add to the statement made by US Ambassador Joseph Mondello on January 25, in which he expressed concern that Government recognised Maduro. He said the US remains committed to maintaining mutually beneficial relations with TT.
In a BBC report, Guaido said Venezuelans are living in a dictatorship under Maduro. A CNN report said two former Venezuelan soldiers living outside the country have called on enlisted soldiers to revolt against Maduro.