OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said National Security Minister Stuart Young was unfit for office and must resign, after US envoy Joseph N Mondello said he and Young had indeed discussed Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodriguez’s recent visit to TT, in contrast to Young’s denial of such.
Rodriguez had visited ostensibly to discuss the covid19 pandemic but a later revelation of her flight manifest showed a delegation member who would soon become had of State oil firm PDVSA, even as Reuters News alleged a Paria Fuel Trading oil shipment illegally ended up in Venezuela. Paria denied this on Tuesday.
Young on May 13 had told the Senate, "We continue to have open channels of communication. In fact, last week the US Government’s head and top diplomat in Trinidad and Tobago, that is the ambassador, not any underling who may or may not be speaking to the media, the US ambassador, had a conversation with me, as a representative of the Cabinet level of the Government, and there were other conversations and there was no raising of the breach of any treaty."
Mondello denied this on Tuesday. He said, "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 TT's obligations as a party to the Rio Treaty.
Moonilal said the ambassador’s statement against Young was a signal moment in "an ongoing saga of lies and deceit" from the TT Government.
“So Minister Young was most aware of the gravity of the situation when the untruths continued and they continued untruths to the extent where not even their lies were consistent.
“The Prime Minister found himself completely flat-footed in Parliament last week. Asked by myself whether he felt it was wise 24 hours after Maduro and others were indicted in the US that he had no concern over that. This speaks volumes.”
Moonilal said Young must now follow former minister of public utilities Robert Le Hunte and resign, which the country was now calling for.
He said Young had previously caused a scandal and impaired TT’s relations with Barbados and Jamaica over TT university students stranded in the covid19 lockdown. “He is now in quicksand. I’d like to throw him a rope, and let go of the other end,” Moonilal said. “He should the honourable thing, and relieve the country of the stress. It will be a good signal that TT will not support violating international sanctions.” Moonilal said Rodriguez was banned from entry to the US and the European Union, yet was allowed to land at Piarco Airport hours after Venezuelan officials were indicted for drug-trafficking.
“No amount of reshuffling of the pack at this stage will take away attention from Stuart Young’s role in undermining TT’s economic recovery and impairing our relations with our largest trading partner.
“He has one option only, to walk the plank.”
Moonilal hit Young’s record in office as “unfit and unprepared for high office.” He said his visit to Houston, Texas with Dr Rowley had intervene in a negotiation on gas-prices but without carrying one technocrat, just as had occurred when the two men visited Australia to buy a ferry. “For four years they have operated as though government is their private parlour.” He hit Young’s record on the stalled Dragon Gas Deal. “Don’t forget he went to Venezuela on a mysterious one-day trip. Nobody knew what it was about. They have been playing games with Maduro based on their personal solidarity, with no proper record of what they were doing.” The Sandals Project was another Young failure, Moonilal said.
Moonilal said Young had once brought to Parliament purported police reports on Opposition MPs which had turned out to be texts on his phone. Most recently, Young was the first minister within memory to be subject of a front page newspaper editorial calling for him to resign. “The time has come now that he should be relieved of the burden of public office.”
Editor's note: This story was amended on May 21 to correct an erroneous version of what Mr Young told the Senate on May 13. He was previously mistakenly reported as having said: "There was no raising of the treaty." Our apologies for the error.