Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States. (Image courtesy antiguanewsroom.com)

Caribbean diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders, has described as “sordid” and “a presumptuous assault”, the recent attack on Trinidad and Tobago by a representative of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, at a meeting of the Organisation of American States.

The incident occurred on Wednesday 16 December 2020.

In an open editorial published by a regional news agency (Antigua Breaking News), Sir Ronald states that what occurred should never have been allowed to happen, given that Venezuela’s membership in the OAS ended in April 2019, and the Venezuelan (Guaidó) representative does not represent the duly elected government of that country, but rather:

“…the purported representative of Venezuela is merely the spokesperson for only one of many political parties in Venezuela…”

Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States and was in attendance at the meeting in question.

In the article, Sir Ronald recounts the events as they occurred, observing that what occurred was merely a continuation of an attack which had been launched against T&T by Mr Guaidó, himself, on November 24th, concerning the capsizing of a boat containing 16 Venezuelans in the Gulf of Paria, all of whom apparently perished.

“In his presentation, Guaidó’s agent made baseless accusation against Trinidad and Tobago, claiming that ‘there have been abuses and mistreatment of Venezuelans in Trinidad’ and demanding that ‘Trinidad and Tobago allow access to its territory and provide protection to people coming from Venezuela, observing due process and the principle of non-refoulement’.”

Sir Ronald added: “The Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Phillips-Spencer, made a dignified and robust response that did not recognise Guaidó’s agent, but rejected all his remarks.  The Ambassador was clear that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had stated that the incident in which 16 Venezuelans had lost their lives had occurred ‘within Venezuela’s jurisdiction’.  He pointed out that ‘Trinidad and Tobago—a small island State—has compassionately taken the unprecedented step of officially registering and facilitating over 16,000 migrants from Venezuela to live and work in Trinidad and Tobago.  This hospitality continues even as our economy faces significant challenges that have affected our own people’.”

According to Sir Ronald, “There should have been many shamed faces at the end of the Ambassador’s response to the remarks by an agent with not one shred of authority to speak for the people and authorities of Venezuela.  This event reflects a perverse OAS no one should want, and which ill-serves the people of the Americas.”

The career diplomat is of the view that the OAS, as it currently stands, “is the handmaiden of powerful governments, which control it through various methods, including coercion”. 

He maintains that the attack on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago by the Guaidó representative was “wrongly allowed but rightly resisted”.