US probing Trinidad and Tobago: More trouble?

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US President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley

Dear Sir

I had already completed an article on the damage done to our relations with Barbados by the disastrous Stuart Young but must leave that for another time.

Trinidad and Tobago is now under a probe by the United States to determine whether the Rowley administration has defied US sanctions against Venezuela. Ominous.

The issue deals with a shipment of fuel from Paria Fuel Trading Company that left our shores for an Aruban refinery linked to Citgo, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. Reports that the fuel cargo was shipped to Venezuela after it arrived in Aruba have surfaced. The US Embassy in Port of Spain has told the Guardian the “US government is aware of the reports”.

The United States has made it clear that any nation assisting Venezuela in avoiding embargoes will face sweeping sanctions. We could be in serious trouble with our largest trading partner, because if culpable, we could lose significant revenue from trade and investment flows, to further impoverish our beleaguered state. Our food supply could be more endangered since we import 70 percent of what we eat from the United States, and COVID-19 has already produced front page Express headlines announcing “Hunger Heartbreak” and “Rush for Food”.

Making things worse are the already damaged relations with the US under the Keith Rowley administration. It started in 2016 when OAS secretary general Luis Almagro termed Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro “a petty dictator” for refusing the recall referendum after fraudulent elections. With Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela already in gas talks, Rowley, patently unskilled in foreign relations, jumped to Maduro’s defence, crudely calling for the removal of Almagro.

As I said then, “Rottweiler diplomacy had arrived.” In the process, Trinidad and Tobago lost its leadership in CARICOM. The US started talking to Jamaica on the Venezuela issue. Trinidad and Tobago was not invited to a meeting at his Miami resort that Donald Trump held with five Caribbean leaders to discuss Venezuela and other matters.

Keith Rowley claimed it was no snub to be not “invited to the private residence of an American president”. Utter foolishness of course. Trump has hosted world leaders at his Miami resort, including Chinese president Xi Xingping and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe to discuss global and bilateral issues; and, according to the White House, the four Caribbean leaders met with Trump and “discussed a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela, opportunities for investment, and ongoing security cooperation”. This was no dinner party. And we were left out, relegated to irrelevance on a matter happening on our very doorstep.

Indeed we have been sinking in ignominy on this Venezuela issue. Rowley salivated for Maduro’s gas for over four years and refused to take a stance on the political and humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes. It was shameful. People were starving, children diseased and dying, Maduro jailing, torturing, murdering his people, millions fleeing their homeland.

But the Rowley administration said not a word yet asserting we “stand taller than ever” when we were in fact diminished by our silence, mendicants at Maduro’s door. And experts said the gas we were likely to get from the Dragon field was minuscule compared to our reserves. Why were we diminishing ourselves for a “few pieces of silver”? Was some leader compromised in any way?

Then there was that disaster when the prime minister went on the excessive offensive against the US ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.

Defending his Venezuela approach, Rowley thundered in parliament: “I take umbrage. I take umbrage at the United States ambassador making a public statement criticising the actions of the government of Trinidad and Tobago. As far as taking instructions from the US Embassy on Marli Street, leave the Peoples National Movement (PNM) out of that.”

Unadulterated Rottweiler diplomacy; rhetoric suitable for a political rally at Piggott’s Corner, not the diplomatic arena.

The US would hardly forget it as they investigate all efforts to circumvent US sanctions against Venezuela. The US Embassy in Port of Spain says its government will also take “appropriate action” against those engaged in sanctionable activity as well as those found violating US sanctions.

Their focus on Maduro is unrelenting. Two weeks ago, the dictator was indicted in the United States in a decades-long narco-terrorism and international cocaine trafficking conspiracy; and last Thursday, the US confirmed that a massive cocaine shipment off Spain’s coast is connected to the Maduro regime.

Questions also surround that impromptu visit to Port of Spain by Venezuelan vice-president Delcy Rodriguez, days after the US offered a US$15 million reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest. Did Rodriguez, also sanctioned by Canada and the European Union, discuss the fuel shipment with Keith Rowley on her visit? And did that meeting initiate the transaction by Paria one day later?

The administration should make every effort to clear this up because speculation is swirling. If indeed Trinidad and Tobago is facilitating fuel shipments to Venezuela, it would reveal the power Maduro wields over our government; that the Rowley administration is prepared to incur the displeasure of the world’s superpower, our most powerful democratically, largest trading partner and main source of foreign direct investment.

The United States has its eyes on “Maduro and his corrupt network”. Are high officials of our government compromised in any way? Is Maduro holding the metaphorical gun to somebody’s head in the Rowley administration?

Rest assured the US will find out. Has this administration landed us in still more trouble?

Ralph Maraj

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs

24 COMMENTS

    • IGNORANCE is the words spoken by a fool with no knowledge, proof of bogus claims… put up or shut up!

  1. Who’s probing the probers? Does America answer to The Hague? The International Criminal Court for their crimes against humanity? The good they do with one hand, does it outweigh the criminal actions and activities (covert operations) of the other? Life is dynamic, but old ways are most static, especially when its designs are often achieved. However, but at what cost to society? Humanitarian crises occurs by both man-made and natural disasters, acts of God, and it’s a shameful thing what is happening in neighbouring Venezuela. To make a long story short, there are many sides to World political affairs, and it’s long past time that we learn to get along with each other.

  2. Still does not compare to the damage done by that *** Kamla and the rest of her cabinet that “stole” billions from the treasury. The idiots that decided to go on vacation in Venezuela during a pandemic should remain out of the country. No country dictates whether the US leadership salivates over the North Korean dictator, so Rowley should do as he pleases.

  3. What an unpatriotic article… I usually respect your writings but this is an outrage and very disappointing.

    • I was shocked to see the name of the article writer at the end. This surely had the tone of an opposition FANATIC!!!!

  4. The writer appears to be reactionary with left brain perspective and analysis. This is a mind conditioned by underdevelopment to always cooperate with the developed countries for fear of punishment. He is seeing somethings but needs to use his right brain for synthesis along with higher reasoning. Sounds like chicken licken..

  5. Sad, sad days for us ahead. The separation has begun. Sheep from the goat, we have to stay in the lane our Shepard lead us to or leave as lot and his wife or into your own path. This is where we are at. Woe unto to Shepard that leads my sheep astray.

  6. I was just on the 3rd paragraph, about to ask, who is writing this biased bullshit? Skipped the rest and scrolled down… I almost fainted when I saw a Trinidadian…SMH, but not surprised at the name. Lord please intervene to save our blessed country from these unpatriotic fools. My prayers are usually heard.

  7. This article is full of lies half-truths and innuendos. Was any deep investigation done by the writer? Or did he try to make whole cloth out of gossip and happenings. Further could a Trinidad and Tobago ambassador go to USA and behave like the current US ambassador. I think not. Ambassadors should practice diplomacy. Was his behavior diplomatic? Just saying.

  8. 1. Who made USA the leader of all Countries?
    2. Aren’t we helping the Venezuelans who came here from a humanitarian standpoint?
    3. Your article should be more on how we can create more job by finding modern ways to grow our own food and let the USA President do whatever he wants so much so that it hardly affects us. Article is nonsense.

    • Sanctions would be good for Trinidad and Tobago. It will teach the people to be independent, more productive and self reliant. All those who want to enjoy the high life by ripping off the country and its citizens their days are numbered. Trinis have to stop thinking in terms of PNM, UNC, INDIANS and AFRICANS. When they do, the island would see better times.

  9. This article was written by an absolute sellout. Someone who will sellout the entire Caribbean like some of those other spineless no good “bastards” for a couple dollars. SPINELESS NO GOOD “BASTARD”.

  10. One has to wonder, the individual who wrote this article, was he paid by PNM opposition or US Gov’t troll. Whose pocket is his hand in? It is quite obvious he isn’t thinking or give a dam about the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

  11. I always felt Ralph Maharaj was under developed. Where he come with this school children song…ah ha you in trouble now…you broke the rules. Listen Ralph the worm has eaten most of the ‘Big Apple’. Are they going to punish us as they did Cuba. We will survive.

  12. You hold no merit. Since the incident with you and PM Manning then your sister being removed as Speaker you have turned bitter and your one goal in life is to take down the very political party you and your family was once very active in. There’s nothing worst than a turncoat.

  13. When I first started reading this article, I thought it was Trinidad Prime minister apologizing to president trump for the refusal entry of Trinidad citizens held over at Barbados after the country boarders were closed. Then I asked myself why should he be apologizing? If we can recalled memory serving us right, the government had just made an oil investment with the government of Venezuela. So the Aruba refinery delivery to the Venezuela state own company PDVSA was both governments investments.

    On the other hand, Venezuela has always been the executives sharing ESL in the students exchange of Trinidad academics. And, business has always been shared. What good humanitarian again can be displayed amongst two neighboring country over the years. Who can see, and who has ear can hear. Listen to the sound of $15 million for any information leading to the arrest of, and see way back in memory citizens who amongst us (The Judus) that sold country great minds and geniuses out for few pieces of silver. Those who indentured in our midst be aware off.

  14. These UNC people will stop at nothing to bring Dr. Rowley and the PNM government down. They want to suck up to America not realizing that America would rather deal with Dr. Rowley than with them. NOBODY LIKES THEM. Because they have a history of snitching on Black People and nobody likes a Effing Snitch.

    Furthermore, these sanctions that they pushing America to level against Trinidad will hurt them the most. They won’t be able to exports their goods to other nations. Their bank accounts will be seized. Their properties will be confiscated and America will declare Eminent Domain on their houses and lands. So who you think will suffer the most? Take a guess. You know that they will “kill” their own mother for a piece of land. Well let’s see how many Americans they will “kill” when they lose their property to the Americans. Karma is a “B”. And I can’t wait to see it come to pass.

  15. It is amazing that a “former minister of foreign affairs” of a sovereign Caribbean State can write such unpatriotic nonsense, such utter crap, such HOGWASH, OMG. I can hear Donald Trump and every ‘racist’ American in the privacy of their living rooms laughing at these words from the pen of no less than a “former minister of foreign affairs” of a Caribbean country.

    Can you imagine that this ‘HOUSE SLAV’E was once traveling the world representing Trinidad & Tobago as a foreign minister. OMG. Eric Williams must be turning in his grave. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela must be looking down in utter shame at this totally uncultured, backward, pre-historic, politically uneducated ‘HOUSE SLAVE’ who takes pride in reminding us that he was once a “foreign minister” of a sovereign democratic State in the Caribbean. What a waste of a human brain.

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