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TT | Keith Rowley lashes media over US/TT Row – Says Rio Treaty is a Cold War Relic

Featured Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley
PORT-OF-SPAIN,  Trinidad, May 29, 20230 – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has lashed out at media houses in Trinidad and Tobago  which he said were fuelling their own agenda  by deliberately misrepresenting the Government’s handling of the Venezuelan vice president’s visit in March.

Addressing the media at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Thursday, Dr Rowley said decisions taken by the government “to protect the people” made enemies of the media houses, who published articles filled with inaccuracies.

The articles had to do with Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to TT and the sale of oil to Aruba that reportedly ended up in Venezuela, contrary to US sanctions against the Nicolas Maduro government.

Rowley told the media briefing, “In TT – let me say this here now: we don’t have independent media houses in TT. What we have are media houses with interests to protect. And if you think I don’t know what is going on, I know exactly what is going on and will speak to it in full at a future time.”

He highlighted two media houses, Guardian Media Ltd, which owns the CNC3 television station and the Guardian newspaper; and One Caribbean Media, which owns TV6 and the Express, as the ones aggrieved by the Government’s stance.

“The time has come for the population to know what the interest is,” he declared, “because apparently you don’t know.

“One media house is owned by a business conglomerate that has interests and the Government has taken decisions that are unfavourable to their interest.

“The other one has business with the State which the government is not facilitating. And then, obviously, the government is making enemies because they have interests to protect.

“We have interests to protect and that interest is the people of TT.

“Their interest is to protect their financial bottom line, and on many occasions the Government stands in the way.”

Last week, the United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Joseph Mondello expressed concern about a visit to TT by Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, and the meeting she had with Prime Minister Keith Rowley.

Delcy Rodriguez is the lead co-ordinator of Venezuela’s response to covid19, and the pandemic was said to be the subject of the high-level meeting in Trinidad in March.

Also present at Rowley’s meeting with Rodriguez was Asdrubal Chavez, president of Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Subsequent to the meeting National Security Minister Stuart Young met with Ambassador Joseph Mondello arising out of Rodriguez’s visit to TT. Young told a meeting of the Senate that at the meeting, the question of a breach of the Rio Treaty did not arise.

The US ambassador however,  publicly disagreed with Young’s account, saying he had expressed concern about whether Rodriguez’s visit was consistent with TT’s obligations under the treaty.

After revealing this, the Opposition later questioned whether TT would be sanctioned for the sale of the oil that reportedly ended up in Venezuela, citing the Rio Treaty, a mutual defence pact among countries of the Americas.

On Thursday Rowley played a recording from October 1, 2019 in which he spoke why TT abstained at a meeting of Rio Treaty signatories from voting for military intervention in Venezuela.

He said then: “It is an obsolete treaty. It is a relic of the Cold War. And in today’s world, to say you going to intervene in a country because you don’t like the government is a dangerous development, not to mention it runs counter to the UN charter and the constitution of the OAS (Organization of American States) itself.”

Rowley said while the country would not be pulling out of the Rio treaty, when the issue was raised last year, TT sided with the UN which recognised Maduro as Venezuela’s president, and maintained the CARICOM position of non-interference.

Rowley said leading up to the Venezuelan visit, while covid19 was ravaging parts of Europe and moving towards the Caribbean, he was worried about what could happen in Venezuela and by extension TT.

So when he was told Rodriguez wanted to meet with him he took the meeting. During the meeting TT was offered covid19 test kits, which were refused, as they were not as efficient as the ones in use here.

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  • Countries: Trinidad_Tobago

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