“[…] It is the view of the MSJ that the UNC’s position makes them unfit for being the government of Trinidad and Tobago since they will turn us into a semi-client state of the US. We need not state the obvious—we pass the stage when we had a governor, long time ago…”
The following press statement on Trinidad and Tobago’s alleged facilitation of fuel to Venezuela and, in particular, the subsequent response by UNC MP Dr Roodal Moonilal was submitted to Wired868 by David Abdulah, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ):
One definition of a ‘fifth column’ is ‘any group of people who undermine a larger group from within’. That definition certainly fits the United National Congress (UNC) and its principals such as Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and long serving MP Roodal Moonilal.
It is one thing to be critical of Government policies when in Opposition. It is quite another to openly side with another state against the interest of your own.
Like it or not, the Dr Keith Rowley-led government has a policy position on Venezuela. It is supported by the majority of CARICOM and the United Nations. That position is that Nicolas Maduro is the constitutionally elected President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
This policy position also recognises that Venezuela has many difficulties and that there is a major political division in that country, which division and problems can best be solved by peaceful dialogue and not by military intervention and violence. CARICOM has gone further and has worked with other nations, supported by the UN Secretary General, to broker such dialogue.
The fact is that the United States, especially under Donald Trump’s presidency, has adopted a policy position of regime change by any means possible. Trump and his Secretary of State have said as much in explicit language.
The US support for Juan Guaido [through] the imposition of unilateral sanctions and an economic embargo on Venezuela—including seizing billions of dollars belonging to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and its US subsidiary CITGO—are all with the objective of regime change so that a regime that is compliant with US interests can be installed.
This is not about democracy. As Trump himself has stated, Venezuela has a lot of oil and there are US companies that would like to make money there.
The US sanctions against Venezuela, including its decree that third countries and companies must not trade with certain Venezuelan companies, is in furtherance of the objective of regime change. Those sanctions have no approval of the United Nations. They have been unilaterally imposed contrary to all international norms.
We must understand the US position on the shipment of fuel to Aruba by the Paria Company in this light. The US, under Trump, has itself become something of a pariah state. It has stopped financial support to the World Health Organisation during the pandemic.
It unilaterally broke off the Iran no-nuclear agreement, negotiated over many years with the involvement of several states. It then unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran. It has blocked medical and other Covid related assistance to Cuba and Venezuela.
The US violates the principles of respect for the sovereignty of nations and the non-interference in another state’s internal affairs. No self-respecting nation and especially small states such as Trinidad and Tobago and those in CARICOM can survive in this world if such principles do not exist.
It is one thing for big states and bullies to violate such principles as the US has done consistently in this hemisphere over more than 100 years, since the Munroe Doctrine which espoused that the US can do anything in or to another country, once it’s in the US’ national interest so to do.
It is, however, quite another thing for persons within a sovereign state to openly abandon, indeed repudiate, such principles. This is what the UNC has done. It is the view of the MSJ that the UNC’s position makes them unfit for being the government of Trinidad and Tobago since they will turn us into a semi-client state of the US.
We need not state the obvious—we pass the stage when we had a governor, long time ago. The US Ambassador ought never to be written to by a Member of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago seeking his/her succour.
This is not the first such occasion that the UNC has adopted the policy of Marli Street. They did so by claiming that Juan Guaido was/is the President of Venezuela. They did so again when they advocated that all the Venezuelans who entered Trinidad and Tobago must be given refugee status, when they were in fact migrant workers.
In fact if the UNC was in government and the Venezuelans were declared refugees, then in this period of the Covid 19 pandemic, every one of them would be entitled to every benefit of a T&T citizen, including salary relief grants, food cards, etc. It would have made our situation even more precarious than it is today.
The UNC adopts these backward positions in the opportunistic hope that Marli Street will back their election to office. It is a classical act of a fifth column and one that we reject.
At the same time, the MSJ does not believe that Trinidad and Tobago should engage in a shouting match with the United States.
What is required is a respectful but strong articulation of our own rights as a sovereign nation in the context of the international norms established by the Charters of the United Nations and the Organisation of American States, and our obligations under the CARICOM Treaties.