Trinidad’s border locked down as Venezuela crisis deepens

(Trinidad Guardian)  T&T’s bor­der is now locked down!

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young con­firmed this was in train yes­ter­day as word spread of an up­ris­ing in neigh­bour­ing Venezuela.

“We are lock­ing down the bor­ders and in­creas­ing (se­cu­ri­ty) re­sources around those ar­eas,” Young told the T&T Guardian in the Sen­ate yes­ter­day.

Height­ened lo­cal ac­tion on sys­tems kicked in fol­low­ing news of a pos­si­ble at­tempt­ed op­po­si­tion-led up­ris­ing in Venezuela and clash­es be­tween sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro and Na­tion­al As­sem­bly head and self-pro­claimed in­ter­im pres­i­dent Juan Guai­do.

Me­dia re­ports ini­tial­ly re­port­ed Maduro’s gov­ern­ment was “putting down” a small coup at­tempt af­ter Guaidó an­nounced he was in the “fi­nal phase” of end­ing Maduro’s rule. Guai­do urged sup­port­ers to force Maduro from pow­er. Some pic­tures showed cer­tain mil­i­tary mem­bers sup­port­ing Guaidó. Maduro, how­ev­er, said he’d spo­ken with mil­i­tary lead­ers who showed “to­tal loy­al­ty.” The UK Guardian re­port­ed gun­fire, tear gas and wa­ter can­non use. The Unit­ed Na­tions has ap­pealed against vi­o­lence.

A girl wears a homemade gas mask during a rally against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Yes­ter­day, Young’s min­istry sub­se­quent­ly stat­ed, “It’s been re­port­ed cer­tain el­e­ments of the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary have in­di­cat­ed sup­port for Juan Guai­do and that sup­port has re­sult­ed in dis­tur­bances in Venezuela. T&T main­tains its prin­ci­pled po­si­tion of non-in­ter­fer­ence and non-in­ter­ven­tion in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Venezuela and hopes the Venezue­lan peo­ple will re­solve their af­fairs peace­ful­ly. The min­istry’s rel­e­vant di­vi­sions have been work­ing to­geth­er, fo­cused on se­cur­ing our bor­ders and we’ll con­tin­ue to do so.”

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Den­nis Moses is over­seas. Act­ing For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ed­mund Dil­lon said, “We’re cer­tain­ly watch­ing the sit­u­a­tion very close­ly.”

En­er­gy Min­is­ter Franklin Khan, who’s ad­mit­ted the TT/Venezue­lan Drag­on Gas field project was de­layed be­cause of Venezuela’s prob­lems this year, had no com­ment. Oth­er En­er­gy Min­istry of­fi­cials were, how­ev­er “stay­ing tuned” be­cause of T&T’s stake in the project.

Cari­com’s Guyana sec­re­tari­at —re­spond­ing to the T&T Guardian—al­so echoed T&T’s po­si­tion, say­ing: “We main­tain the call for a peace­ful in­ter­nal res­o­lu­tion.”

The sec­re­tari­at lat­er is­sued a state­ment from Cari­com chair­man, St Kitts Prime Min­is­ter Tim­o­thy Har­ris, who ap­pealed for calm and peace in Venezuela. Har­ris spent much of yes­ter­day con­sult­ing with oth­er Caribbean lead­ers on the is­sue. He re­it­er­at­ed his pledge that Cari­com “will con­tin­ue to make every ef­fort to help bring a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to Venezuela’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.”

“My col­league Heads of Gov­ern­ment and I are col­lec­tive­ly charged with en­sur­ing the con­tin­ued se­cu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty of our beloved Caribbean re­gion. This re­spon­si­bil­i­ty is our first and fore­most pri­or­i­ty as we work in uni­son to safe­guard our peo­ple’s fu­ture,” Har­ris said.

“Cari­com has been work­ing earnest­ly to pro­mote mean­ing­ful di­a­logue and diplo­ma­cy, as well as a four-phased process—the Mon­te­v­ideo Mech­a­nism—whose aim is an in­clu­sive and last­ing so­lu­tion. Such a con­sid­ered ap­proach can on­ly re­dound to the ben­e­fit of Venezuela and, by ex­ten­sion, the coun­tries and cit­i­zens of Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean.”

Ear­li­er this year, Cari­com’s Har­ris and Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley at­tend­ed meet­ings on Venezuela at the UN and Uruguay. Har­ris al­so at­tend­ed meet­ings in Ecuador. Yes­ter­day’s Venezue­lan clash­es ex­plod­ed just be­fore Har­ris was sched­uled to en­gage in fol­low-up talks with the In­ter­na­tion­al Con­tact Group (ICG) on Venezuela in Cos­ta Ri­ca next week.

While Cari­com’s Mon­te­v­ideo Mech­a­nism was re­ject­ed by Guai­do, Cari­com For­eign Min­is­ters re­cent­ly tele­con­fer­enced with Guai­do. T&T’s Moses lat­er said he’d have spo­ken to Maduro. But there was no word af­ter that. Har­ris will be in T&T on Fri­day for a Cari­com se­cu­ri­ty sum­mit.




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