US Ambassador frowns on TT’s support for Maduro: Rowley lashes back

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Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley has responded to the United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Joseph Mondello’s statement against Trinidad and Tobago’s position on Venezuela, according to a news report on CNC3’s website.

In a statement on Friday, Mondello called Trinidad’s recognition of the Nicolas Maduro administration “deeply concerning.”

Mondello said: “Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido and the democratically elected National Assembly have the full recognition and resolute support of the United States of America and the majority of democracies in the Western Hemisphere. I find the official statements from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago recognizing the undemocratic and illegitimate government of Nicholas Maduro to be deeply concerning. Democracy and prosperity require tough choices.”

However the statement emphasized that relations between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States are expected to be preserved, despite the differences over Venezuela.

“I and the entire U.S. Embassy are committed to maintaining mutually beneficial bilateral relations with the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Mondello wrote.

However, Prime Minister Rowley hit back at the US Ambassador’s criticism. “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 while we take action in protection of the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Dr Rowley said in the Parliament Friday evening, according to the CNC3 article.

“We in Trinidad and Tobago under all of our government, we have preserved the sovereign position of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

The Prime Minister reportedly lashed out at members of the opposition who have said that they support Juan Guaidó who has declared himself interim president of Venezuela. Opposition Leader of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar publicly voiced her recognition of Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela.

“We on this side are prepared to join Venezuela and the free world in recognising Juan Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela until fresh, free and fair elections are held with international observers,” she said, speaking in Parliament on Friday according to a LoopTT article.

In response, Dr Rowley said, “If today there are people in the opposition who believe they must take instructions from somebody else and the US Embassy on Marli Street, then you’re on your own. Leave the PNM out of that.”

Guyana is watching the developments closely since the smoldering tensions flared up on December 22, 2018 when the Venezuelan navy intercepted two seismic survey vessels working under contract for ExxonMobil in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana. It is unclear how the current state of affairs will likely affect Venezuela’s longstanding claim to about two-thirds of Guyana’s land space and portions of Guyana’s offshore territory.

Sources tell OilNOW Venezuela’s opposition’s position on the border controversy with Guyana is just as, if not more radical than that of the Maduro regime.