RADHICA DE SILVA
MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal believes the summoning of the Venezuelan ambassador by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is an unprecedented move, which will not auger well for T&T’s diplomatic relations.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley summoned Venezuela’s Ambassador to T&T, Carlos Amador Perez Silva, to a meeting to discuss recent developments concerning both countries—and Trinidad and Tobago’s position on those issues.
Guardian Media understands the meeting, which is scheduled for today, Monday 21 December 2020, will be a face-to-face event between both men, rather than virtual.
Speaking with Guardian Media during a drive-by toy drive held in Esperance Village, San Fernando on Saturday, Dr Moonilal condemned Dr Rowley, saying he was surprised that the Prime Minister as the head of government was summoning the Venezuelan ambassador.
“A head of government never summons an ambassador. It is usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which does this,” he explained. “When I acted as Minister of Foreign Affairs some time ago, I had cause to summon the head of a mission to express my dissatisfaction about a problem. It is unprecedented that a Prime Minister will summon an ambassador, because there has been no grave change in relations between Trinidad and Venezuela,” Dr Moonilal said.
He added: “This is not a matter that the Prime Minister should deal with in the rough and arrogant manner in which he is accustomed. Matters of diplomacy should be handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the proper channels. Dr Amery Brown and the Foreign Affairs ministry should manage this crisis daily and not fall to the rant of the Prime Minister.”
He explained that the Venezuelans who were protesting over T&T’s stance had a right to protest within the law.
“We should meet and treat with people in a proper manner,” Moonilal said.
Concerning the death of 28 Venezuelans, Moonilal said this was a very sensitive matter with international implications.
“A proper enquiry should have been undertaken with the Defence Force and the Coast Guard and a report submitted. We cannot manage diplomacy by cussing, shouting and embarrassing international agencies,” he said.
He also lamented that it was the Canadian government—and not the T&T government—who has been assisting nationals in Canada with income relief, shelter, and aid, during a harsh winter.
Meanwhile, MSJ political leader David Abdulah said his party was in solidarity with the stance of the T&T government as it relates to Venezuelan migrants.
He said many of the people coming to T&T illegally were migrants and not refugees and asylum seekers.
“We cannot have people coming here illegally and being given the same status as a Trinidad citizen,” Abdulah said.
He noted that some NGOs are engaged in mischief and are organizing protests against T&T because of its stance. Abdulah said the T&T government had assisted in registering Venezuelans and this was a good step in helping Venezuela.
“We are opposed to illegal trafficking, particularly of humans. It is horrendous. We support if they are migrant workers and coming here for economic aspects, but some come here illegally. Therefore, we strongly disagree with any suggestions that they are refugees and asylum seekers. There is a lot of mischief afoot, but there is a fundamental difference between a migrant worker and a refugee and those who are asylum seekers,” he added.