NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young has, once again, sought to clarify statements he made in the Senate in response to a question by the Opposition on the visit by Venezuela’s vice president Delcy Rodriguez to TT in March.
In a letter to the editor, Young was highly critical of all three daily newspapers, accusing them of deliberately misquoting him and misleading readers.
“Unfortunately, my response in the Senate has been incorrectly reported by the media on more than one occasion,” Young complained.
He said he was first misquoted on May 14 in the media and this created the initial misunderstanding of what he said the day before in the Upper House.
“The author reported, in direct quotes, that the US ambassador did not cite the Rio Treaty to complain to me,” he said. Young said as the Hansard reflects, he never said that US Ambassador Joseph Mondello did not raise the treaty with him.
“I very carefully answered a pointed question of the opposition and said, ‘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,’” Young added.
He said on Tuesday – hours after Mondello issued his own statement disputing that claim – he “took the precaution" of issuing a statement to the media in which he provided a copy of the Hansard “to ensure that my exact words used were known.”
The minister said despite this, the media still continued to “intentionally mislead readers and misinform the public.”
In his letter, Young accused each of the daily newspapers of misrepresenting what he said on each occasion.
“I am compelled to point out and correct these continued attempts to mislead the public by misquoting me so that the record reflects exactly what I said.
“The previous inaccurate reporting of what I said on May 13, 2020, in the Senate has already lead (sic) to unnecessary misunderstandings and must not be repeated.
“I do not expect those who have agendas to mislead to do the right thing, but I don’t expect flagrant irresponsible journalism,” the minister added.
On Tuesday, Mondello responded, though he said did not normally comment on private conversations with host government officials.
He did not respond to the mistaken suggestion that he and Young did not discuss the treaty at all.
Rather, he wanted to affirm that he specifically expressed concern to Young about the “consistency of Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to Port of Spain with TT’s obligations as a party to the Rio Treaty.”
Mondello quoted Article 20 of the treaty, which, he said, made it “unambiguously clear that all measures imposed by the Organ of Consultation – like the travel restrictions on Ms. Rodriguez – are binding on all treaty parties, whether or not they voted in favour of such measures.”