By Stephen Kangal
April 18, 2019
After five decades of exercising our nationhood and political independence during which our foreign relations were carefully crafted and marked by clarity, unimpeachable consistency and firmly grounded in the achievement of our national interests on the global and regional stage by the likes of Rose, Constantine, Mc Intyre, Seignoret, Abdullah, Major, Ballah, Dodrige Alleyne, Naimool, Dumas et al our current foreign policy on Venezuela now in the hands of Prime Minister Rowley and a lame-duck Foreign Minister is driven by confusion, contradictions, lack of parliamentary over-sight and embarrassingly and patently inconsistent.
Venezuela is only seven miles away. Informal relations between our peoples via the Gulf of Paria began since the days of the Caribs, Arawaks and Warahoo Indians. This was followed by formal relations conducted between the British and the Spanish after Trinidad was severed from The Captaincy General of Caracas to become part of the British Empire.
Today T&T in its bilateral relations with Venezuela has unilaterally recognized the legitimacy and control of the regime of President Maduro but refused to defend that position at the multilateral OAS when a Resolution was passed condemning Maduro’s illegitimacy. It then proceeded at the multilateral Caricom, UN and at Montevideo to espouse an outdated and useless hackneyed UN Charter policy of non-interference whilst Venezuelans are suffering from starvation and migrating in their thousands to Trinidad without any migrant policy response.
Although Venezuela’s nearest Caribbean neighbor and firm unconditional supporter of Maduro we have recalled Ambassador Byam and now closed our Embassy in Caracas unwittingly following Jamaica that is one thousand miles away from Caracas.
How can T&T effectively promote and conduct its dialogue promoting and peace-restoring role when it gets its information on the Venezuelan crisis from secondary and tertiary sources with the closure of its Embassy there?
T&T is now flip-flopping and in withdrawal mode on its policy towards Maduro. Moses’ disclosure of “new information” by Juan Guiado during the Barbados tele-conference with Caricom triggered the closure of our Embassy. It is now engaged in the development of a rapprochement with Trump post the humiliation of Ambassador Mondello in Parliament and the Mar Lago Rowley exclusion debacle.
For while PM Rowley summoned US Ambassador to Whitehall on April 9 and dubbed it a courtesy call but denied by the US Ambassador Mondello, T&T’s Permanent Representative to the OAS on that very day ditched Maduro’s OAS representative by abstaining on the Vote that seated Juan Guiado’s nominee as the OAS representative until fresh elections are held.
T&T now sits with Guiado’s man, Gustavo Sarre at the OAS that is in diplomatic law and practice tantamount to recognition of Juan Guiado as Interim President of Venezuela in addition to T&T’s January 10 recognition of Maduro.
Oh how have our foreign relations degenerated from the sublime to the ridiculous as so other many aspects of governance under the Rowley regime!