(Trinidad Guardian) The Opposition United National Congress has endorsed Venezuelan National Assembly head Juan Guaido as interim President and called for fresh elections in Venezuela supervised by international observers.
“We’re preparing to join with the Venezuelan people and the free world in recognising Juan Guaido,” Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in Parliament yesterday.
She spoke about the crisis in Venezuela as she piloted a motion against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s recent Mind Your Business address to the nation. Her statements also followed Rowley’s comments earlier in the sitting when he rebuffed US President Donald Trump’s call for hemispheric governments to reject the embattled Nicolas Maduro presidency.
Rowley said, in response to the US call which he said was “made through its president who speaks for the US and not for Trinidad and Tobago” that this country’s response had been to participate in Thursday’s Caricom meeting on Venezuela. He said the meeting resulted in T&T reaffirming its non-intervention, non-interference position on neighbouring states and acknowledging the sovereignty of a nation.
However, Persad-Bissessar slammed Government’s non-intervention policy as being an old concept.
“Foreign policy must be guided by the values and principles you hold dear. You don’t form foreign policy by saying, ‘You see me, I not getting in that!’ Non-intervention . . . those days are long gone. This is a global situation. Everything you do now everyone knows what you’re doing right away, so this hands-off approach can no longer work and if we have value and principles for human rights and democratic processes then we must make that our foreign policy, not the old concept of non-aligned and non -intervention.”
Persad-Bissessar added: “We condemn the human rights abuses on our doorstep and the breaches of law and the democratic process there. We share the desire of the Venezuelan people for peace and democracy, for free and fair elections. That’s the only way we can get revenue from the Dragon field project,” she said.
She said with Government’s action on the issue, especially when they aligned with the Maduro government,” we may well kiss the Dragon Field gas project goodbye.”
She said the game changer which Government said the Dragon Field project is supposed to be is now a “collapso” project because of what’s happening.
“We’d warned of this reality some time ago but Government was content to go swaying in a conga line.”
Persad-Bissessar said when the Opposition raised its voice on the matter, Government accused the UNC of treason and being unpatriotic.
She noted that governments are lining up taking positions on the Venezuelan issue.
“There is a gathering storm on Venezuela with a build-up of military force with Iran and Russia. We have to watch the skies now since there are military aircraft out of Russia also. Our nation is a stone’s throw away and we have the continuing isolation of the Maduro Government from the rest of the international and regional community,” she said.
Commenting on the possible consequences for Trinidad and Tobago backing Maduro—a position at odds with this country’s three major trading partners—Rowley said Government was very clear on what consequences can flow in the matter. He said T&T continues to be a country run by common sense and rule of law and “maintains its position to be able to speak as a nation on its own with no prompting from others.”
During Rowley’s statement earlier, he disagreed with Princes Town MP Barry Padarath’s criticism that Government had put the “cart before the horse” in declaring support for Maduro first then seeking Caricom’s view on the matter. Rowley said T&T didn’t have to take sides since “the Venezuelan Government has been there and Trinidad and Tobago has been treating with it and there was no requirement for us to indicate which side we’re on.”