OWTU’s chief education and research officer, Ozzi Warwick, says the unilateral sanctions by the United States against Venezuela has no basis in international law and is not supported by the international community.
“Therefore, it is wrong,” he said.
Warwick spoke with Newsday about reports of fuel from Paria Trading Fuel which was sold to Aruba allegedly ending up in Venezuela, and likely sanctions which can be imposed against TT as outlined in a letter from the UNC to US Ambassador to TT Joseph Mondello.
Warwick took aim at the United National Congress (UNC) deconstructing its premise that the sanctions by US President Donald Trump is morally right and has international legal endorsement.
“The action of the UNC has huge implications for TT, and the party don’t seem to understand what they did was wrong and why it was wrong.”
Warwick said what the UNC did by writing to the US envoy, was clearly putting political expediency in front of the national interest of TT.
“This has demonstrated the willingness of an opposition party to collaborate and conspire with a foreign power, to place that foreign power’s national interest above and beyond the national interest of TT.”
He said the UNC argument bears similarity to the opposition in Venezuela, “choosing to ignore a long and deep-rooted principle of international law and the principle of national sovereignty in preference of an old colonial 19th century gun boat diplomacy being pursued by Trump.”
He equated the “gun boat policy” to powerful states flexing their military muscles to coerce less powerful states into granting concessions.
He said TT, as an independent nation, has shared a long, strong and friendly relation with the US. This is despite TT openly opposing and condemning the US invasion of Grenada, voting in the UN against US sanctions against Cuba, and assuming the Caricom and UN security council's position that the Venezuelan crisis needs to be resolved internally without foreign interference.
He referred to a series of executive orders issued by the Trump administration, including 13884, which he said the UNC has premised its case on.
This order seeks, among other things, to impose financial sanctions and visa restrictions on non-US countries which assist or support the Nicholas Maduro government, threatening US sanctions on foreign energy companies working with Venezuelan oil company PDVSA.
He saw the sanctions as a primary tool of foreign policy with the main objective to modify not only the targeted country’s behaviour, but the behaviour of a third country.
The United Nations Human Rights Council commissioner Michelle Bachelet has condemned these sanctions which, Warwick, said are not permissible under international law as the UN charter deals only with collective economic measures.
“These measures are increasingly being used by the Trump administration and its allies as non-conventional weapon to force policy changes.
“The application of unilateral sanctions violates the basic principles of the UN charter and other legal instruments. It violates the legal equality of states and the principles of respect for and dignity of national sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states.”
He accused the UNC of crossing the line to actually engage in collaboration with a foreign power to undermine the national sovereignty of a country.
“We have to take a stand for our sovereignty.”