Trinidad and Tobago opposition questions suspicious dealings with Venezuela

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Venezuela's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez (L) and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Dear Sir

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his agents are now busy trying to deflect and distract from their suspicious dealings with Venezuela by using loaded words like “treason.” The fact is the United National Congress (UNC) has never called for the imposition of any sanctions on our nation but sought to highlight how the misguided and reckless actions of the Rowley-led regime that has jeopardized our nation.

Is it “treason” or an attempt at a “cover-up” by the Rowley government?

Here are the facts:

  1. August 25th, 2017 – President Donald Trump issues an executive order which prohibits US persons from engaging in transactions with the Maduro government and also authorized financial sanctions and visa restrictions on non-US persons that assist or support the Maduro government, which could lead to US sanctions on foreign energy companies working with PdVSA;
  2. March 26th, 2020 – The US state department charges Nicolas Maduro with Narco trafficking. The State Department stated, “We estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tons of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela”;
  3. March 27, 2020 – The Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, who is banned from travelling to the US, Canada, and the European Union, was granted permission to enter Trinidad and Tobago after our borders were closed;
  4. March 28, 2020 – ES Euro Shipping S.A, contacted Paria to negotiate for the sale of the fuel which was shipped to Aruba and alleged in the international press to be delivered to Venezuela. The principal of ES Euro Shipping S.A is Wilmer Ruperti, a Venezuelan shipping tycoon who is also linked to Maroil Trading. Maroil Trading had close ties with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and even reportedly ensured the country received fuel supplies in 2002;
  5. April 26, 2020 – International media organization Reuters highlighted Trinidad and Tobago as the origin of the gasoline shipment;
  6. Members of the Peoples National Movement (PNM) government including Rowley, Franklin Khan, and Donna Cox, refused to answer questions about the alleged gas shipment;
  7. April 27, 2020 – Speaker of the House of Representatives Brigid Annisette-George, denied a motion to discuss the questions surrounding the gas deal by Paria. She is the wife of Newman George, chairman of Paria Fuel Trading Company, and did not recuse herself;
  8. April 28, 2020 – Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal wrote to US ambassador Mondello noting the actions of the government and expressing concern regarding the potential impact for Trinidad and Tobago;
  9. April 29, 2020 – Rowley refused to answer a question posed to him during prime minister’s question time in parliament on the issue;
  10. April 30, 2020 – The Trinidad Guardian published an article highlighting that the United States is now probing the alleged gas deal between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

Here are some questions that the Rowley-led government needs to answer:

  1. Why was Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuelan vice president allowed into Trinidad and Tobago on March 27, the day before the purchase order for the shipment of fuel was placed?
  2. Is Dr Rowley aware that by meeting with Venezuela’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, he violated the Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which had imposed travel restrictions for Rodriguez since December 2019 and which was binding on all member states, including Trinidad and Tobago?
  3. Is it true that immediately following that meeting, Trinidad and Tobago through its state agency, Paria Fuel Trading Company, shipped 150,000 barrels of fuel to Aruba on April 21, 2020? International sources have confirmed that the fuel eventually reached Venezuela.

Prime Minister Rowley, unable to defend or provide any explanation on these new allegations, chose to personally attack the leader of the opposition. It was a continuation of his “blame Kamla” campaign which has been ongoing since he took office.

The prime minister’s reckless, dangerous, and questionable governance has truly led to our beloved nation’s destruction in every possible way. Through his actions, and he alone is to blame, as he oversaw and was present at all meetings with the Venezuelan vice president.

We must never allow a sitting prime minister to tell us that asking for government accountability is equal to “treason”. We must not tolerate clandestine deals, unanswered questions, and blatant deflections and distractions – our very survival as a nation-state is under threat.

Senator Anita Haynes

Trinidad and Tobago

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