A response to Express editorial ‘UNC’s act of disgrace’

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Dear Sir

“Comment is free, but facts are sacred,” a British editor wrote. The Express editorial: “UNC’s act of disgrace” vehemently reinforces this statement. This editorial reeks of blatant dishonesty and is a continuation of the media’s biases and their pattern of systemically skewing information to pander to the Peoples National Movement (PNM) political agenda. Good journalism requires a code of ethics, which is absent in the editorial.

It was designed to lend support to the government’s propaganda machine by creating another narrative instead of reporting the facts.

“The UNC’s misguided attempt to invite US interference in Trinidad and Tobago’s affairs by invoking the spectre of sanctions carries the risk of deepening socio-political divisions and weakening the national resolve to defend our sovereignty”… Is the Express articulating the PNM’s narrative that the United National Congress (UNC) has invited the United States to invoke sanctions on Trinidad and Tobago and weaken the resolve to defend Trinidad and Tobago sovereignty.”

At no time did the UNC court any US sanctions. The United States has placed decisive economic sanctions on Venezuela and any country that violates those sanctions will pay the price.

The editorial sheepishly admits that this has come about because of the Keith Rowley-led PNM administration’s clandestine relationship with Venezuela president Nicholas Maduro and the visit of Venezuela’s vice president Delcy Rodriguez just ahead of the controversial sale of 150,000 barrels of gasoline by State-owned Paria Fuel Trading which ended up in Venezuela.

That is why the US is currently investigating whether Trinidad and Tobago violated sanctions, not because of any letter written by the UNC on the issue.

Further, the UNC’s political leader did not issue any release which can be described as a “wild display of fear-mongering.” The UNC leader was advising the country exactly what the reality could mean for the citizens if the United States decided to apply sanctions against Trinidad and Tobago.

The editorial, continuing its open attack on the UNC, with this line: “In a country replete with daily acts of irresponsibility by public figures, it is hard to find one more irresponsible and ill-advised as this”…

More irresponsible and ill-advised is exactly what the Express should have been calling out Keith Rowley. He knew what he has been doing with his relationship with Maduro. He knew what the consequences of his action(s) could mean for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. The US had warned that sanctions could be imposed on “anyone who supports” the Maduro’s government and would force countries and companies to choose between doing business with the US or with Venezuela.

Yet, Rowley continued his anti-American rhetoric and actions and it was obvious that sooner rather than later Trinidad and Tobago would land on the US radar.

The PNM has always perfected the art of political distraction and in this instance has found a willing partner in one of the daily newspapers to champion their cause. The Express editorial has demonstrated how easy it is to change the national conversation by shifting the focus away from the government and so many citizens that have suddenly joined that bogus conversation instead of asking serious questions about allegations against the government.

The intense political heat that the country should have been applying to Rowley and the PNM has shifted to the opposition UNC – blame the UNC.

Capil Bissoon

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