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Dr Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs.

Government continues to fight against what it says is further misinformation by the Organisation of American States’ (OAS’) general secretariat concerning last month’s tragic drowning of a number of Venezuelans off Guiria.

The OAS secretariat has continued to circulate information that the remains of the drowning victims were found “on the maritime border of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.”

The group of 41 Venezuelans set off from Venezuela bound for T&T on December 6 but Venezuelan authorities said their boat, which was capable of carrying only eight people, capsized.

The shipwreck occurred 11 nautical miles from Guiria in Venezuelan waters and the bodies washed ashore there. Venezuelan authorities found that the vessel was overloaded and lacked lifejackets or navigation aids. Its owner was arrested for human trafficking and the owner of the location where they left from was also arrested. Ten others were also sought.

The OAS secretariat, which has a representative of the Venezuelan Opposition on it, has had negative history with T&T concerning this country’s non-interventionist stance on Venezuelan matters. Government has also criticised OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s stance in the OAS’ involvement on Venezuelan matters.

Just before the drownings, T&T and several other countries were absent from an OAS vote condemning Venezuela’s December 6 election.

When the drownings occurred Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne slapped down false allegations by OAS Secretary General envoy (Venezuelan Migration and Refugee Crisis) David Smolansky, including that the ill-fated boat “could have been sent back by T&T.”

But misinformation by other Venezuelan opposition supporters in and out of T&T caused protests outside of T&T’s embassies in Caracas and Washington (the latter, where the OAS is based.) Those in the Washington protest confirmed the action was geared to stop T&T “protecting/supporting” (sic) the Maduro regime.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs revealed the OAS’ general secretariat has continued with ‘misinformation’.

The ministry stated, “Government views with grave concern the continued campaign of misinformation generated by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and its deliberate attempt to tarnish the good name and reputation of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The ministry stated that the latest in the OAS’ acts is its press release of December 30, 2020, titled, “New Report Warns Number of Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants could Rise to 7 million in 2021”.

That made reference to the tragic loss of life of 33 Venezuelans, but inaccurately stated that the remains of the deceased were found “on the maritime border of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.”

“Factual records have detailed that the incident occurred in Venezuelan waters off the coast of Guiria. To use the tragic circumstance and, even the death of Venezuelan nationals, in such a manner is distasteful, reprehensible and goes against the purpose of the Organization and its General Secretariat.”

The ministry stated that Government has called on the OAS to cease this activity.

“The OAS’s current course can result in incalculable damage to the integrity of the organization and the trust reposed in it by its legitimate members.”

Browne told Guardian Media, “We have again written the OAS secretariat this week and on each occasion, we point them to the inaccurate and false content within their releases.”

Government isn’t participating in voting on any OAS matter until the OAS reinstates a representative of the Maduro regime and removes the representative of his political challenger Juan Guaidó.

Several Caribbean states, like T&T, absented themselves from the recent OAS vote on Venezuela’s elections.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, the new CARICOM chairman, has said the issue of Venezuela will not go away.