UNITED States Ambassador Joseph Mondello said on Thursday the US was better than the protests witnessed by the world on Wednesday when supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC as lawmakers and elected officials were ratifying results of the US elections. Four people were killed in the mêlée.
In a Facebook post, Mondello supported President-elect Joe Biden’s confirmation by lawmakers working through Wednesday night into Thursday morning after police regained law and order on the Hill. Mondello, an attorney, was posted to TT by President Trump.
Washington DC was placed under a two-week state of emergency with streets outside the Capitol building being patrolled by the National Guard while a steel fence was erected around the building.
Mondello wrote, “On January 6, we watched with shock, sadness, and dismay the deadly scenes of unrest at the US Capitol Building in Washington DC.”
He said individuals had abused their first amendment right to peacefully protest under the US Constitution, threatening to obstruct the certification of electoral college votes, while putting elected officials, federal employees, Capitol staff, and law enforcement officers in harm’s way. “Thankfully, despite yesterday’s horrific events, the US Congress and Vice President Pence dutifully fulfilled their constitutional responsibilities and certified the electoral votes to confirm that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be the next President and Vice President of the United States.”
THIS WON’T DEFINE US
Mondello insisted: “Nevertheless, we should not be defined by these moments. Instead, we should be defined by how we bounce back.
“As so many of our friends, allies and colleagues around the world have expressed in the wake of this incident, America is better than what we witnessed yesterday.” Mondello expressed confidence and full support for the embassy’s work in TT.
“The values we espouse in the promotion of democracy, security, human rights, good governance, trade and investment, and health remain as true as ever.
“Thank you to those who have supported us and sent their wishes of encouragement, resolve, and good faith in this difficult time. Brighter days are surely ahead.”
Prime Minister Dr Rowley, in his role as Caricom’s new chairman, lamented the unrest and called for a resumption of the process to certify the election of Biden.
“The Caribbean Community (Caricom) is deeply saddened and concerned at the unprecedented scenes that unfolded at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, USA, during the certification of the votes of the presidential elections by the US Congress.
“The storming of the US Congress was a gross affront to democracy and the rule of law in a country which has been viewed as a leading light of representative governance the world over.”
‘NOT SO MR PM’
Rowley’s remarks as Caricom chairman were somewhat toned down from his personal views expressed on Wednesday when he said the events in Washington DC were a day to never forget. Drawing a parallel with queries by the US over the Venezuelan election process which resulted in crippling US sanctions, Rowley asked: “Who will now sanction the US?”
UNC shadow foreign affairs minister Naparima MP Rodney Charles on Thursday urged Rowley to be more gracious. “Yesterday the world witnessed with consternation the unfortunate events in Washington, arguably the seat of world democracy.
“World leaders both friend and foe expressed concern while at the same time underscoring their hope that the situation would soon be brought under control and democracy would continue to flourish.”
Charles said unlike other world leaders, Rowley’s remarks on Wednesday referencing the US to Venezuela had been most combative and undiplomatic.
“Why rub salt in the wounds of the US at a time when they are experiencing monumental difficulties? Was it your high point of diplomacy? Did you have to be so imprudent?” Charles said the US is TT’s largest trading partner and the home of and employer to many thousands of TT citizens.
The world reacted immediately on Thursday with the rare spectacle of countries issuing travel advisories to its nationals who happen to be in Washington DC. The German Foreign Ministry warned, “A continuation of the protest actions including the use of firearms cannot be ruled out.
“Adhere to the curfew and avoid the down town area widely, especially around the Capitol Hill area in Washington, DC. Avoid crowds where there is a possibility of violence.”
The Australia Government issued a travel advisory for Washington DC after Australian prime minister Scott Morrison described scenes in that city as “terribly distressing” and said he hoped for “a peaceful and stable transition of power to the government elected by the American people.”
The Chinese embassy issued an advisory on its website on Wednesday warning Chinese citizens to strengthen safety precautions in light of a “large-scale demonstration” in Washington DC and a curfew announced by the local government.
The British Government warned its citizens: “On 6 January 2021, the Mayor of Washington DC introduced a curfew in response to disorder around the US Capitol. British nationals in Washington DC should follow the Mayor’s instructions, and avoid scenes of disorder.”
In Venezuela, according to a report in the UK Guardian, politicians close to president Nicolás Maduro were falling over themselves to bait Trump, who had spent the last two years unsuccessfully trying to overthrow Maduro’s Chavista regime and even brought criminal indictments, in absentia, against Maduro and several Cabinet officials.
“I’ll be brief: the United States – what a disaster,” tweeted the Socialist party boss, Diosdado Cabello. “As they say,” said oil minister Tareck El Aissami, “What goes around comes around.”