Kamla: PNM letting Maduro restrict Trinidad and Tobago journalists

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.  Photo by Sureash Cholai
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Photo by Sureash Cholai

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the PNM is "allowing (Venezuelan Prime Minister Nicolas) Maduro to debar local journalists from covering news events."

In a press release on Thursday, she addressed the ongoing discourse on press freedom for a second time.

Journalist Kejan Haynes recently reported on independent media being given restricted access while covering certain events, for instance, the repatriation of Venezuelans from the Cruise Ship Complex, Port of Spain, while state-owned TTT was allowed access beyond a certain point.

He said he was told off-camera by Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga that this was to give TTT "a fighting chance."

After heavy backlash from media workers and people on social media, de Nobriga suggested his statement was a joke and said also “off the record.”

In a news release on Tuesday, he said: "I have seen the news report circulating and it is unfortunate that Kejan Haynes took seriously a statement made by me light-heartedly and supposedly off the record at the repatriation exercise on Saturday."

However, he also said, "Given the large numbers, and in keeping with the health protocols, it was determined that only TTT and the Information Division would have access."

He said instructions were given to ensure access to footage to all media houses that asked for it.

"As Mr Haynes knows very well there is no policy that provides or affords the state-owned media, TTT or any arm of the Information Division, preferred or exclusive access to any events or activities and I am surprised that Kejan should infer otherwise."

Persad-Bissessar previously described the situation as a “road to dictatorship and tyranny.”

And on Thursday, she said the incident has been "rightfully condemned by persons across the political divide."

But she said de Nobriga's response "only raises more red flags.

"According to the Government, this repatriation exercise was entirely the work of the Maduro regime and the TT Government had no say in the matter. This is a shocking and damning admission that suggests the Rowley regime are (sic) simply pawns of Maduro.

"The migrant crisis in TT is a matter of national importance. It has attracted the attention of the UN as well as human rights organisations worldwide. The repatriation of Venezuelans from TT is not akin to a private cocktail function in which the Venezuelan Embassy can choose who or not to invite."

She said free and independent media are the "bedrocks of democracy," adding that in her opinion, "the Rowley regime looks more similar to the Maduro regime

"We must ask the question, 'Were journalists banned from covering this repatriation exercise because the Rowley regime is conducting a joint propaganda campaign with Maduro?'

"If we do not defend our democracy, soon we won't be able to tell either regime apart."


"Kamla: PNM letting Maduro restrict Trinidad and Tobago journalists"

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