Government will extend its facility to Venezuelans migrants in T&T up until December, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced Friday.
He did so in Parliament while replying to an Opposition question about the status of the Venezuelans who obtained a year-long amnesty almost a year ago. It ends in July.
Rowley somewhat sarcastically thanked the Opposition for reminding Government that it had intervened in the situation regarding Venezuelans. The Opposition in recent years of turmoil in Venezuela had accused Government of failing to do anything to assist fleeing, impoverished migrants.
Prime Minister Rowley said Government’s amnesty allowed 16,000 Venezuelans to reside here for one year. He said as of yesterday none of the registrations had expired.
“Going forward from July there will be an expiration on the original one-year offering but given the intervening period with the COVID-19 situation and all that we’re experiencing, we anticipate Government will continue to extend this facility to the Venezuelans within Trinidad and Tobago borders…up until we can probably say December 2020.”
He made it clear Government didn’t feel it was responsible for the Venezuelans in the COVID situation.
“What we’re responsible for is giving them the facilities to reside here and making them productive citizens (of Venezuela) temporarily domiciled in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Rowley lost his cool, however, when Opposition MP Rodney Charles asked whether T&T was still saying it wasn’t bound by Rio Treaty sanctions. Charles noted a US envoy’s recent call at an AmCham meeting for T&T businesses to observe sanctions in trading.
Accusing the UNC of seeking to create distance between T&T and the US, Rowley said it didn’t take an AmCham meeting for T&T businesses to know about trading. He reiterated that T&T doesn’t recognise Venezuelan’s Juan Guaido as president and under the United Nations charter, the government is the current Maduro administration.
On whether T&T would remove itself from the Treaty, Rowley angrily accused the Opposition of using as its basis that “the US say…that’s how they make policy. We took our position not to acknowledge Guaido, which is our right, and you’re coming to say the US say. I wish the UNC would stop undermining T&T’s foreign policy!”
To Oropouche EastMP Roodal Moonilal’s question about whether it was good to have disagreement between US lines and T&T policy, Rowley said this country is well-considered and civilly open on foreign policy but was being attacked by UNC MPs because another country has an issue with it.
“Trinidad and Tobago is a responsible state. Notwithstanding the Opposition’s bests efforts, we maintain our best relations with the US. These (UNC) people for real?!”
He accused the UNC of falsely telling “the Americans” Government sold fuel to Venezuela.
“That lie hasn’t succeeded,” he said.