After managing the Covid-19 pandemic so well, why did Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley score this own goal with the high-power Venezuela meeting?
His team was doing well. Couldn’t his handlers advise him to duck this one and move on to the good news of opening up the country?
Instead, thinking people are now doubting the veracity of his statements—and in particular when it is coupled with anticlimactic Cambridge Analytica closure. Here are three reasons why some of us think that his loud protestation might mean there may be more in the mortar than the pestle.
The first reason for suspicion is because no plane can land here without a detailed manifest and an equally detailed declaration of the weapons on board. The vice-president of Venezuela is unlikely to be arriving on a plane without her bodyguards and their arms and ammunition.
Ask anyone who worked on the Summit of the Americas and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGUM), they will tell you that even the entourage of the United States president had to get clearance for firearms to enter the country. Such clearance is provided by the minister of national security, especially in a time when your borders are closed. Saying that that is the job of the technocrats is true but does not absolve you from ultimate responsibility.
People in the aviation business also tell you that even when aircrafts fly over another country’s airspace, they need to provide information about the type of aircraft, number of passengers, plane tail number, names of all souls on board and final destination. If for some reason Trinidad and Tobago waived these requirements, then a diplomatic permit would have been issued and again the Prime Minister would have known.
My second cause for suspicion is the composition of the delegation. It is reported that the reason for the visit was to discuss Covid-19 but on our side we do not see the presence of either the minister of health or the chief medical officer while on the Venezuelan side, there were energy officials.
It is possible for persons to have double competencies but I would be suspicious of such a mixture.
My third reason for doubt is the level of aggression which is being exhibited—though I must admit that the drama in Parliament was entertaining. The US did not need the leader of the opposition or her colleague to bring this matter to their attention so this is a cheap shot on the part of the opposition.
It is my fervent wish that other issues appear on the horizon and that our country is not penalised for this mis-step.
Additionally, it is necessary to question the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the imbroglio. Was Minister Moses consulted and what advice did he give with reference to our obligations under the Rio Treaty? Or is it that the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been so diminished that they are no longer even consulted?
On balance, this is a very unfortunate situation for the Prime Minister and I am reminded of something I read in an e-card: “Funny thing about getting caught in a lie. Everything you ever said becomes questionable.”
And I might add, everything you are about to say will also be questioned.