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Saturday 23 March 2019
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Gulf of danger

Expert: Seafaring Trinis at risk if Venezuela deteriorates

CITIZENS of this country could face “far more risk” in the Gulf of Paria if the situation in neighbouring Venezuela deteriorates any further.

This was the view of University of the West Indies (UWI) Institute of International Relations director Prof Jessica Byron-Reid yesterday.

Referring to the recent kidnapping of six fishermen, Byron-Reid said increased criminality in the Gulf of Paria could be one result of a total break down of law and order in Venezuela.

Byron-Reid said such a development would pose risks to citizens in the gulf.

She also said increased movement of Venezuelans seeking refuge could be another result.

But Byron-Reid said there was nothing to indicate that a total collapse of law and order had happened. Should the situation in Venezuela deteriorate, she said, Government should have some contingencies in place to evacuate any TT nationals there who want to return home.

She said the outlook on Venezuela had not shifted significantly and the state of play continues to be external pressure being placed on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down and hold fresh elections. It is unclear at this time what will be the outcome of those actions.

On the US’ decision to impose sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, Byron-Reid said those sanctions would hit Venezuela very hard.

Byron-Reid said international media reports suggested there were “back room talks” taking place between some major international players about how to resolve the Venezuela crisis. She said those talks included the US, Russia and China.

Byron-Reid said Russia and China both had economic interests in Venezuela, with China lending the South American nation some US$80 to $90 billion over the last ten years. She opined that some of the “back room talks” could be to determine how to induce Maduro’s government “to play ball.” Byron-Reid acknowledged the efforts of Caricom to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about finding a peaceful resolution.

On Tuesday, former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas said the UN was the only organisation which Caricom could go to seek a hearing on Venezuela. Dumas said recent developments at the Organisation of American States (OAS) had created the view that the OAS was biased about the crisis. Byron-Reid said Caricom hds been doing “as much as they can.” Byron-Reid hoped a resolution to the Venezuela crisis could be negotiated.

In a video circulated on social media, Maduro appealed to US citizens not to let the Trump Administration turn Venezuela into another Vietnam. Maduro said Venezuela only wanted respectful and peaceful relations with the US. He claimed the US was attempting to stage a coup against his government. Maduro also claimed the US wanted to seize control of Venezuela’s oil, natural gas and gold reserves. CBS News reported there were anti-Maduro street protests in Caracas yesterday.

There were no media reports of increased movement of people out of Venezuela.

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