Trinidad PM hurt by Dragon Gas link to Maduro support

`We have no horse in race’

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, left, views the National Energy Explorers using virtual reality technology during his visit to the NGC booth at the Energy Conference of Trinidad and Tobago 2019 at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

(Trinidad Guardian) Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has ac­cused the me­dia of in­sult­ing him by in­sin­u­at­ing that the Drag­on Gas deal is some­thing per­son­al be­tween him­self and Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Nico­las Muduro.

He made the com­ment yes­ter­day as he field­ed ques­tions from the me­dia dur­ing the first day of the En­er­gy Con­fer­ence at the Hy­att Re­gency ho­tel in Port-of-Spain.

“You peo­ple in the me­dia and some ne’er-do-wells in Trinidad and To­ba­go have been mak­ing this ap­pear as if it is some­thing per­son­al be­tween Maduro and me and I think you all are in­sult­ing me as Prime Min­is­ter of Trinidad and To­ba­go and in­sult­ing your coun­try,” Row­ley said.

“This is not a per­son­al mat­ter. If it (Drag­on gas deal) nev­er works out then it nev­er works out but we tried to open a door. We got to the point where we now have a gas price. So it doesn’t mat­ter who is in Venezuela, that is a use­ful place.”

He added: “What we don’t want is chaos in Venezuela be­cause then we are all in trou­ble be­cause noth­ing could re­al­ly hap­pen. What we are try­ing to avoid is chaos by in­vi­ta­tion.”

The PM said it mat­ters not who is head of the gov­ern­ment of Venezuela, re­it­er­at­ing that the deal is a mat­ter be­tween the “peo­ple of Venezuela and the peo­ple of T&T.” He main­tained that the arrange­ment T&T cur­rent­ly has with Venezuela is not based on a regime but rather on the coun­try’s ex­is­tence.

“We have not tak­en sides. We are neu­tral in this mat­ter. We have no horse in the race but we have a grave con­cern at the out­come of their is­sues,” Row­ley said.

US Am­bas­sador to T&T Joseph Mon­del­lo has, how­ev­er, de­scribed as “deeply con­cern­ing” state­ments com­ing from the T&T Gov­ern­ment recog­nis­ing the “un­de­mo­c­ra­t­ic and il­le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment” of Maduro. But Row­ley has fired back at Mon­del­lo, say­ing, “I take um­brage at the Unit­ed States Am­bas­sador in Trinidad and To­ba­go mak­ing a pub­lic state­ment, crit­i­cis­ing the ac­tions of the gov­ern­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go as we take ac­tion in pro­tec­tion of the in­ter­est of the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go.”

Last week the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed sanc­tions Venezuela.

Asked yes­ter­day whether he was con­cerned there may be neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions for this coun­try since the US is T&T’s largest trad­ing part­ner, Row­ley said, “When­ev­er I hear that kind of con­cern it re­minds me of the woman with a man in her house and a daugh­ter and the daugh­ter com­plains to her about the man’s be­hav­iour and she takes the po­si­tion that if I stand up on prin­ci­ple with this child the man might leave me.

“We in T&T and in Cari­com…We don’t sub­scribe to that.”

He said prin­ci­ples are “not of con­ve­nience,” point­ing out that Cari­com is once again set to take part in mul­ti­lat­er­al dis­cus­sions aimed at find­ing a peace­ful so­lu­tion to po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in Venezuela.

The same del­e­ga­tion, head­ed by Cari­com chair­man and St Kitts and Nevis Prime Min­is­ter Dr Tim­o­thy Har­ris, and in­clud­ing Bar­ba­dos PM Mia Mot­t­ley and Row­ley, will head to Uruguay this week to take part in mul­ti­lat­er­al talks with that coun­try and Mex­i­co in the hope of be­ing able to bro­ker peace di­a­logue be­tween Maduro and his chal­lenger, Na­tion­al As­sem­bly leader and self-de­clared in­ter­im pres­i­dent of the coun­try Juan Guai­do.

On whether he was con­cerned re­gard­ing the US’ fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with T&T and Cari­com, Row­ley said as far as he was aware there was no is­sue.

“We have no is­sue about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween us and the US. We have a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion on an ap­proach on a mat­ter which is very im­por­tant to us. We re­serve the right to en­ter­tain, ad­vance and de­fend that point of view with­out com­pro­mis­ing our po­si­tion,” Row­ley added.

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