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Friday 24 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Confusion drives our policy on Venezuela

THE EDITOR: After 56 years of nationhood during which our foreign relations were carefully crafted and marked by clarity, unimpeachable consistency and firmly grounded in the achievement of our national interests on the global and regional stage by the likes of Rose, Constantine, Mc Intyre, Seignoret, Abdullah, Major, Ballah, Doddridge Alleyne, Naimool, Dumas et al, our current foreign policy on Venezuela, now in the hands of Prime Minister Rowley and a lame-duck Foreign Minister, is driven by confusion, contradictions, lack of parliamentary oversight and is embarrassingly and patently inconsistent.

Venezuela is only seven miles away with relations between our peoples beginning since the days of the Caribs, Arawaks and Warahoo Indians. This was followed by relations conducted between the British and the Spanish after Trinidad was severed from the Captaincy General of Caracas to become part of the British Empire.

Today TT in its bilateral relations with Venezuela has recognised the legitimacy of the regime of President Nicolas Maduro but refused to defend that position at the multilateral OAS when a resolution was passed condemning Maduro’s illegitimacy.

It then proceeded at the multilateral Caricom, UN and in Montevideo to espouse an outdated and useless hackneyed UN Charter policy of non-interference whilst Venezuelans are suffering from starvation and migrating in their thousands to Trinidad without any migrant policy response.

Although Venezuela’s nearest Caribbean neighbour and firm unconditional supporter of Maduro, we have recalled Ambassador Byam and now closed our embassy in Caracas, unwittingly following Jamaica that is 1,000 miles away from Caracas.

How can TT effectively promote and conduct its dialogue promoting a peace-restoring role when it gets its information on the Venezuelan crisis from secondary and tertiary sources with the closure of its embassy there?

TT is now flip-flopping and in withdrawal mode on its policy towards Maduro. Moses’ disclosure of “new information” by Juan Guaido during the Barbados teleconference with Caricom triggered the closure of our embassy and the development of a rapprochement with Trump post the Mar-a-Lago Rowley exclusion debacle.

For while Rowley summoned US Ambassador Joseph Mondello to Whitehall on April 9 and dubbed it a courtesy call but denied by the ambassador, TT’s permanent representative to the OAS on that very day ditched Maduro’s OAS representative by abstaining on the vote that seated Guaido’s nominee as the OAS representative until fresh elections are held.

TT now sits with Guaido’s man Gustavo Sarre at the OAS, which in diplomatic law and practice is tantamount to recognition of Guaido as interim president of Venezuela, in addition to TT’s January 10 recognition of Maduro.

STEPHEN KANGAL, Caroni

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