Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, says Trinidad and Tobago was “preserving our position of neutrality, we have no business in other people’s business,” as it relates to the political economic crisis in Venezuela.
“This is not Keith Rowley. This is the fundamental principle of Caribbean people, not only Trinidad and Tobago. This is the fundamental principle that protects small states because if you say anybody who could do it should be allowed to do it what is to protect St Kitts-Nevis, what is to protect Trinidad and Tobago, what’s to protect Barbados or the Maldives Islands
“So all over the world small states have a duty to ensure that the UN’s fundamental principle of non-interference is not squandered for political or other gains of individuals…,” he said.
Rowley, addressing supporters on Tuesday at a PNM meeting at the Mason Hall Secondary School in Mason Hall, recalled an instance where former Barbados prime minister Errol Barrow had strongly opposed interference in the affairs of another country in the region, saying Trinidad and Tobago’s position was guided by the principles of Caribbean stalwarts like Barrow, Dr Eric Williams, Michael Manley, VC Bird and George Chambers, the latter, who had opposed United States military invasion of Grenada in 1983.
“I am standing on their shoulders,” he said, as he criticised Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro, who has endorsed the Venezuelan opposition leader without the matter being debated at the OAS.
“He stayed in his office in Washington and he, this public servant, speaking for the OAS, not having consulted the Caricom countries, I don’t know who else he consulted, he recognised a new president in Venezuela.
“So he now has put the OAS in a position where the OAs cannot take part in any mediation because if the OAS has acknowledged and recognised a new president what is there to talk about, and who can you talk to?
Rowley said he believes that the Montevideo Mechanism, which was agreed upon at the talks in Uruguay, provides a good opportunity for bringing about a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan.
He also responded to a post by Deputy to the Venezuelan National Assembly, Carlos Enrique Valero, who in a post on Twitter criticised what he said was the PM’s and TT Government’s support of the Maduro government,
“I didn’t know I was working for he… I didn’t know I was a Venezuelan MP… I didn’t know that the interest I have to protect and the oath of office I took was for him. I took an oath of office to defend the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
“The final position is that the Venezuelans are to talk themselves to a position where negotiations can be done under whoever but the bottom line is, we in Trinidad and Tobago, we want to steer all of them away from a conflict that will have the effect of damaging all of us, not the least of which are the Venezuelan people and the people of the Caribbean.
“We are protected by the principles of the United Nations charter that says non-interference, non-intervention, what countries should follow except by extenuating circumstances where the UN comes in and we all can authorise the UN to intervene on behalf of persons who may not be able to look after themselves…”