Trinidad opposition endorses Guaido as Venezuelan leader

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks during the sitting of Parliament yesterday.

(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.”

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