Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley seemed unbothered by the budding conflict between US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Joseph Mondello and National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday.
Even as debate on whether Young should either be fired or resign over the furore caused by Mondello’s claim that he discussed T&T breaking the Rio Treaty over Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to T&T in March, Rowley remained silent on the matter.
The Prime Minister yesterday did not respond to numerous calls and texts about the tense media releases between Mondello and Young on Wednesday.
However, he instead posted casual pictures to his Facebook page from his kitchen garden, posing with heads of lettuce and other greenery.
The seven pictures, posted just after 3.30 pm yesterday, showed a smiling Prime Minister, casually dressed in a flowered shirt and khaki pants, harvesting heads of lettuce and tending to other small plants.
The caption on the pictures simple stated, “Tending to this garden provides a great sense of satisfaction.”
Rowley appeared to pose for the pictures, one staring off into the distance, another smiling over a basket of the harvested foodstuff.
“I come here when I have a little time, sometimes late in the evening or very early in the morning. I do a lot of focused thinking when I am tilling the soil and while I am planting,” Rowley wrote in a caption accompanying the pictures.
“Since coming into office, I’ve created and kept a kitchen garden at the Prime Minister’s official residence in St Ann’s.”
The brewing trouble between Mondello and Young seemed far from Rowley’s mind in the pictures. Within the hour, the pictures also garnered thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments.
On Tuesday, Mondello broke protocol and issued a media statement confirming he did raise the issue of T&T breaking the Rio Treaty when Rodriguez was allowed into the country on March 27.
At a Senate sitting last Wednesday (May 13), however, Young said he spoke with Mondello and the issue of the Rio Treaty did not come up.
But after Mondello’s statement, Young responded via media release saying that his Senate statements were misconstrued and he actually said that a breach of the treaty was not raised.
Guardian Media attempted to reach Rowley yesterday for his response to the Mondello/Young situation but there was no response.
There was also no response to questions which we put to the PM about calls from the Opposition for both him and Young to step down.
On May 11, Young said he had sight of the contract of sale between Paria Fuel Trading and Aruba and that there was a clause preventing the sale of fuel to a sanctioned country.
But Paria, in a full page advertisement on Monday, said it produced that contract with the clause forbidding the sale of fuel to sanctioned countries, only after the fuel was purchased and the ship, the Aldan, had already left T&T and was reportedly in Aruba.
Paria also stated that the buyer, ES Euro Shipping SA, was provided with a redacted sales contract with the local buyer in Aruba with the sanctions clause.
However, the Aruban government, through its T&T Embassy, has made it clear that only the government is allowed to purchase fuel for that country and it had not done any business with Paria this year.
It also added that the Refinery of Aruba has been inactive since 2011 and the Aruba government now purchases its fuel from the US Gulf Coast.
Guardian Media also asked Young about the contract that he claimed to have seen between Paria and Aruba for the sale of fuel, in light of the fact that the Aruban government said they did not purchase any fuel from Paria. He did not respond.
That silence by the Government was emulated by State-owned Paria Fuel Trading.
Paria chairman Newman George did not respond to calls or questions from Guardian Media.
Guardian Media attempted to contact George, Paria general manager Mushtaq Mohammed and the company’s communication specialist Nerissa Feverck. No one responded to calls or texts yesterday.
Questions to Paria came after the Kingdom of the Netherlands confirmed on Tuesday that only the Aruban government has the autonomy to purchase fuel for the country. That means ES Euro Shipping SA could not have purchased the Paria fuel for use by the Aruban government.
Coming out of the statement from the Netherlands Embassy, Paria Fuel was asked about who was the local buyer in Aruba if the 150,000 barrels of fuel which ES Euro Shipping SA bought was not for the Aruba government.