Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley today told reporters that despite efforts by members of the Organisation of American States to use the Rio Treaty to embark on military intervention in Venezuela, this country abstained from a vote, much like Uruguay and Mexico. Dr. Rowley returned from the United States where he attended the UN Assembly over the past week. He has been heavily criticised in some quarters for his absence from the country amid flooding in certain parts, as a result of Tropical Storm Karen. Today, the Prime Minister explained that this particular trip was planned for quite some time, noting that when the government came into power in 2015, he could not commit to attending and had not attended since that time, as a result of the budget preparations. Dr. Rowley said it was decided that he would attend this year.
Highlighting that Trinidad and Tobago has responsibility for National Security in the region, as a CARICOM member, the Prime Minister said he learnt of the attempt to vote for military intervention in Venezuela, during his trip to Washington, prior to his recent trip to New York. He said the Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador to the US was in attendance at the OAS meeting at that time, where the sub treaty, dubbed the Rio Treaty, which the Prime Minister explained dates back to the 60’s, was used by the OAS, as a means to attempt to get what they wanted.
Dr. Rowley said the Rio Treaty clause says if a nation is deemed to be a security risk to the rest of the region, the countries of the region have a right to intervene in that matter on the grounds of the nation being a security risk. Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and Haiti are the only three CARICOM countries that are signatories to the Rio Treaty, dating back to the 60’s.
The Prime Minister said Trinidad and Tobago abstained from the vote while three countries from South and Central America voted against such action. The matter was adjourned, to be heard during the UN General Assembly, he said. “The issue of the security of the region is not to be taken for granted, because there are powerful forces engaged in seeking to bring about military intervention as a solution to political problems,” said the PM during today’s media conference. The Prime Minister said after learning of the failed OAS vote, he alerted the UN General Secretary since the UN is against military intervention much like the CARICOM member countries.
“The kinds of pressure that’s brought to bear by countries known and unknown is known to the government. We know who we are dealing with and what we are dealing with and we conduct the business of Trinidad and Tobago making sure that we say laser focused on the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.” – PM DR. KEITH ROWLEY.
Dr. Rowley, recalling his recent condemnation of the BBC report on the Venezuelan migration issue, in Trinidad and Tobago, said this is why he spoke out against it.
“That is why, when we saw people misrepresenting our receipt of refugees, we knew what that meant for Trinidad and Tobago ; to portray us as a country harbouring or receiving or bad treating a number of refugees from Venezuela is all part of this whole question of how do we get done, what we want to get done and the timing of certain publications and reports and votes and so on. We don’t set those time tables, others do it. Our position is non intervention; Non intervention which are the elements of the treaty that we have signed on at the UN and at the OAS.” – DR. KEITH ROWLEY