Trinidad defends decision to abstain on Venezuela vote at OAS

Friday, January 18, 2019

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PORT OF Spain, Trinidad (CMC) — Trinidad Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has defended his government's decision to abstain from an Organisation of American States (OAS) vote not to recognise the Nicolas Maduro government in Venezuela.

He said that while Port of Spain had three options during the vote last week Thursday, “we in making these decision we put the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago paramount at all times and in voting nay or yeah as others have done we maintain in the presence of large, small, powerful and weak that Trinidad and Tobago is a sovereign country and we are free to make that decision.

“We make it in our own interest,” Rowley told reporters Thursday during a more than three hour “conversation and an opportunity to engage with him on matters of national interest”.

Jamaica along with Haiti, the Bahamas, Guyana and St Lucia supported the OAS resolution in not recognising the second five-year term of President Maduro, while Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname voted against the measure.

St Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Belize abstained during the vote earlier this week, while Grenada was not present when the matter was put to the vote.

In the resolution, the OAS urged all member states and permanent observers to the hemispheric body to adopt, “in accordance with international law and their national legislation, diplomatic, political, economic and financial measures that they consider appropriate, to contribute to the prompt restoration of the democratic order of Venezuela”.

The OAS is calling “for new Presidential elections with all necessary guarantees of a free, fair, transparent, and legitimate process to be held at an early date attended by international observers”.

Rowley told reporters that Trinidad and Tobago “has very good neighbourly relations with Venezuela notwithstanding whatever may be happening in Venezuela as we do with Brazil, Guyana and the United States.

“One doesn't cancel out the other. We have an embassy in Venezuela as they have in Trinidad and Tobago. We have that good relationship. That event of a swearing in of a president, we are not the elections and boundaries commission in Venezuela and we are not to be encouraged to do otherwise than to be a good neighbour to all of our neighbours,” Rowley said.

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