NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles said that while Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses has seemingly seen the light by attending a Caricom videoconference with Venezuela Opposition Leader Juan Guaido, it may be too little, too late.
Charles spoke to Newsday yesterday (Monday) on the news of Moses' visit to Barbados for the Guaido meeting, which came as a surprise after the Prime Minister’s keen defence of his stance on Venezuela on Friday in the House of Representatives.
Charles said, “This should have been done two years ago, when we were calling on him to be the honest broker between the two parties. They took too long and gave too persistent support for Mr Maduro. But we still hope for the best.”
He said the Government's lack of a strategic foreign policy has meant TT failed to established itself as an honest broker in the Venezuela crisis.
“So we are starting now where we should have been two years ago.”
Charles further alluded to the Government’s foreign policy failure by saying that elsewhere it had failed to sign TT on to a post-Brexit agreement chalked up by the United Kingdom for some Caribbean countries. “Six months later we will rush to do it, just like we’re rushing now to talk to Guaido,” he scoffed.
“Let’s face it. If Guaido becomes president and Rowley is in government, he (Guaido) will not support our Dragon Field arrangements. The Government should have been an honest broker talking to both sides, so each side would have come to us honestly and would have taken our recommendation.”
Charles said he is not sure if Guaido believes TT is 100 per cent sincere.
He questioned the bona fides of some other Caricom nations amid the Venezuela crisis.
“We are hoping Guaido will consider us (Caricom) as honest brokers, bearing in mind Caricom has in it some people with significant debts to Maduro, through Petrocaribe. Whether or not they can freely be honest brokers is questionable.”
Charles replied to Rowley’s recent taunt that Charles had once sold out the country for a plate of food as “dining partner” of French National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
“I met Le Pen some years ago at the UN, with St Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador to the UN Emilio Gonzalez, now finance minister.
“That was a meeting just to get the views and get a sense of the right-wing movement in Europe. And Rowley keeps on criticising the lady at every opportunity in Parliament.
"But given the right-wing movement in Europe, what happens if, God forbid, she becomes president?”
He said this case again underlines his point about Guaido, that this country needs a strategic foreign policy.
Newsday asked if he felt Moses was now trying to get a foot in both camps in Venezuela.
“My view is he is trying to negotiate with both parties.
“But the question is, have they gone too far and too deep with Maduro?”
Saying the Venezuelan parties must be convinced other countries were not seeking any personal gain, Charles repeated his concerns about some countries being indebted to Maduro.
“We want to ask Rowley, all those countries that are owing Maduro millions of dollars from the Petrocaribe arrangement, are they operating freely and are they truly neutral? Or do they have a financial commitment to Maduro? Can Guaido trust them in those circumstances?”