By Stephen Kangal
February 11, 2019
I am getting the impression that although we are mere seven miles from Venezuela, have potential energy interests there to safeguard and cultivate we also have even more compelling economic, technical co-operation and diasporic interests within the USA that is in fact our largest trading partner and source of actual and promising huge investment prospects.
Why is T&T giving undue precedence to propping up illegitimate and dictatorial Maduro and humiliating the USA in our current foreign policy posturing?
That outburst of undiplomatic, crass and downright arrogant behaviour of Prime Minister Rowley in Parliament on Friday towards the Ambassador of the USA, Mr Joseph Mondello has brought the proceedings of the House to an unnecessary all- time- low. The Ambassador was not there to defend himself against the anger of an allegedly raging bull to quote a deceased Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister having assumed the leadership mantle on foreign policy appears prepared to sacrifice our important national interest with the USA to prop up a well-known and discredited dictator who has impoverished Venezuela and brought it to a potential doomsday scenario.
Further to his denigration of HE Ambassador Mondello in the full glare of the public for all to see and hear he alleged without evidence that the said Ambassador is interfering in our internal and domestic political affairs by urging the UNC to adopt a position in favour of supporting Juan Guaido’s Interim Presidency. The UNC does not possess the right to recognize Heads of State- only Governments do.
All of this tirade and charade is patently unjustified since it was a US Embassy Statement. There are more established civilised and protocolary procedures such as summoning the Ambassador to Whitehall/Knowsley and giving him a dressing down on what basis I cannot fathom.
This public display of who’s in charge in T&T and public dressing down of Ambassador Mondell are not the stuff which underpinned the legacy of our past diplomacy. Our diplomacy is now in the hands of untutored novices with plenty Robber talk and King Sailor dance.
While there is a caveat on an accredited Ambassador interfering unduly in the internal affairs of T&T (telling the UNC who to support) there is no such prohibition on an Ambassador commenting on the foreign policy of T&T. He/she is free to do so and to disagree with our foreign policies.
That is the practice and policy that is well recognised internationally. There is no bar to a foreign diplomat holding up our foreign policy to scrutiny and that is what the Ambassador did.
We did that against Apartheid.