UNITED States Ambassador Joseph N Mondello said he had recently discussed Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to TT, in light of the Rio Treaty, with Minister of National Security Stuart Young who for his part said in their talks “there was no raising of the breach of any treaty.”
TT lifted a covid19 border lockdown to let Rodriguez visit the Prime Minister on March 27.
While the Government said the covid19 pandemic was the subject of Rodriguez’s visit, the flight manifest for her delegation included the soon-to-be head of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil firm now under US sanction.
Further, soon after the visit, Reuters News reported a Paria Fuel Trading Company oil shipment sent to Aruba had ended up in Venezuela, now under US sanctions due to alleged election rigging by the Nicolas Maduro regime. In the Senate last week Wednesday (May 13) in reply to Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s query, Young said his talks with Mondello had not included a breach of any treaty.
Mondello issued a statement on Tuesday titled, Rio Treaty was Raised with Government of Trinidad and Tobago. “Normally I do not comment on private conversations with host government officials.
“Since the Government has spoken publicly about my May 6 conversation with Minister Young, though, I wish to affirm that I expressed concern to the Minister in that conversation about the consistency of Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to Port of Spain with Trinidad and Tobago’s obligations as a party to the Rio Treaty.”
He said Article 20 of the Rio Treaty is clear that all measures imposed by the Organ of Consultation – like the travel restrictions on Rodriguez – were binding on all treaty parties, whether or not they voted in favor of such measures. The UNC in a statement said Young’s position was at odds with Mondello’s and had jeopardised TT under the protections of the Rio Treaty.
Young, in a statement on Tuesday, said, “I never said the Ambassador did not raise the visit of Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez nor did I say the Ambassador did not raise the Rio Treaty. What I said was the breach of treaty was not raised.” He said he did not think it proper to say what they had spoken about.
“The only thing I said in response to a question raised in Parliament was that no breach of the treaty was raised, meaning that it was not properly put to me that Trinidad and Tobago has breached the treaty.” He said the US remains an important ally. Young later said he had made no attempt to mislead the population, replying to an Opposition motion on the adjournment of the Senate on Tuesday.