NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles hit Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses for telling the Senate on Tuesday that TT was not bound by a resolution made under the Rio Treaty to restrict the travel of Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.
“Nothing is further from the truth,” says Charles, TT's former ambassador to the UN.
“In fact, having ratified the Rio Treaty since 1967, we are bound to its obligations unless, according to Article 25, we expressly denounce it in writing. How then could Moses make such a colossally misleading statement? Or has the Government secretly denounced the Rio Treaty in writing?”
Charles alleged Moses’ remark was reckless and has threatened TT’s economic survival and well-being and has virtually invited sanctions upon us.
He said the OAS Charter said ministers of foreign affairs may meet to consider urgent problems of a common interest to States.
“This has therefore broadened the scope of the Rio Treaty beyond being simply a defence pact.”
Charles said, at a meeting last September some 16 of the 19 OAS states had backed a resolution to place sanctions on certain Venezuelan officials. He said while TT abstained on this vote, the resolution was approved and is binding on all states that are signatory to the Rio Treaty, including TT.
Charles explained how the charter allows intervention.
While Article 19 says no state has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason, in the internal or external affairs of any other, Article 23 says measures to maintain peace and security in line with existing treaties were not a breach of Article 19.
“In other words, the resolution under the Rio Treaty concerning the crisis in Venezuela does not violate Article 19 of the OAS Charter and therefore, a state cannot simply ignore the resolution in this regard."
Charles accused Moses of putting TT at odds with major trading partners based on this significant foreign policy discordance.
“He (Moses) claimed that TT reserved the right not to be bound by any decision adopted in this resolution since it did not recognise this resolution to be valid. However, there is a procedure that needs to be followed.
“You cannot just decide to not abide by its stipulation by 'vaps'. You need to denounce the treaty outright and in writing.”
While the Government may recognise Nicolas Maduro as the President of Venezuela, they cannot simply disregard TT’s international allies and obligations, Charles said.
“Does this PNM administration not understand the implications of being diplomatically isolated from the 16 regional jurisdictions who voted in favour of the sanctions against Venezuelan officials?”
Charles asked if the Government's rejection of the treaty was related to the TT oil shipment which ended up in Venezuela and the visit of PDVSA officials to TT.
“It all boils back to the blatant disregard by Rowley and his administration of TT's obligations as a member of the OAS when they allowed sanctioned Venezuelan persons within our borders.
“By doing so, they have exposed the entire country to potential repercussions, including sanctions. It is the latest in the saga of their complete incompetence, locally and internationally, and they must be held accountable.”