(Trinidad Guardian) Embattled Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, who has asked to hold meetings with Government, will pay a brief state visit to T&T next Monday, Stuart Young, Minister in Ministry of the Attorney General, said yesterday.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media conference, he made it clear Maduro has requested to visit T&T and a Government delegation, led by the Prime Minister, will hear what he has to say .
Young said the visit was to further bilateral talks in terms of foreign affairs, trade and energy.
Maduro’s visit to T&T, Venezuela’s closest neighbour, comes amidst increasing turmoil in his own country caused by deteriorating economic conditions, including severe commodity shortages and overall instability, throughout which Maduro’s administration has been struggling to maintain order and stave off all-out chaos.
Caribbean islands have been warned of possible Venezuelan refugees fleeing that country’s economic collapse, which in recent days has seen looting in some areas, at least two deaths, many wounded and millions of dollars in losses and damages.
The mayor of Chacao said Tuesday people have resorted to hunting, dogs, cats and pigeons for food.
Young said Maduro would only be in T&T for several hours for the State visit.
He said the Venezuelan leader would be accompanied by the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister, the Petroleum Ministers and Industry Minister as well as representatives of Venezuela’s National Gas Company.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon added that the talks would likely be a continuation of on going discussions which T&T had with that state concerning energy, trade and foreign affairs.
Government officials were unable to say if Maduro would be seeking any type of support from T&T concerning’s Venezuela’s predicament.
Dillon, commenting on the possibility of Venezuelans seeking refuge in T&T, noted that T&T had a security arrangement with Venezuela and had a coastal patrol presence in the Gulf of Paria.
On possible influx of refugees, he said Government was concerned about the situation and was monitoring developments in Venezuela and preparing systems for any worst-case scenario. In that event, he noted, T&T had a Disaster Preparedness Management plan and similar systems.
Dillon said under international human rights law, refugees could not be turned away by a country. He said people could apply for refugee status but it was up to a country to grant that.
He made it clear he was not “advertising” for refugees but was ensuring local systems were in train to deal with any worst-case scenario.
He said checks were still on going on whether only 43 Venezuelans had not returned to their homeland. That figure was given last week by Government on those who had overstayed their 90-day limit in T&T.