Why the US might sanction Trinidad & Tobago

Four days after denying 33 Trini’s entry into Trinidad, minister of national security Stuart Young agreed to open the border. Not to allow for the safe return of our brothers and sisters, but instead to facilitate a high-level meeting between Venezuela and Trinidad government officials. The meeting was held on 27 March 2020. In attendance was Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez. 

Min Young who was present at the meeting has been the front runner in TT-Venezuela energy deals as of late. In 2018 Young led a T&T delegation in Venezuela for this reason.

Yet this meeting was reported not to have been for the purpose of arranging energy deals. Despite having no medical practitioners in the meeting, its alleged purpose was to discuss the Covid19 pandemic.

Must knows regarding Venezuela & Rio Treaty..

Venezuela is currently being heavily sanctioned by the US and countries that wish to assist Venezuela in working around those sanctions are also likely to be penalized.

The Rio Treaty is an agreement among many countries of the Americas and the Caribbean. It was signed in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. The central principle of the treaty is known as the “hemispheric defense” doctrine. This means that any action against one of the nations in the treaty is to be considered an action against all. The treaty “provides for mutual assistance if an act of aggression threatens the peace of the Western Hemisphere.

Since T&T is part of the Treaty it is bound to its articles. In September 2019 a meeting was convened by the Organisation of the American States (OAS), during the meeting 16 of the 19 signatories agreed to abide by economic sanctions imposed on Maduro and his associates.

T&T did not vote at that meeting, yet due to being a member of the Treaty T&T is bound by the result of the (majority vote) decision. Along with T&T’s abstaining was Cuba’s absence and Uruguay’s vote against the decision.

How Trinidad violated the Rio Treaty?

Min Young said in a May 6 meeting with US ambassador Joseph N. Mondello, he was not told that T&T violated the Treaty. Young said, no breach of the Treaty was raised; meaning that it was not positively put to me that Trinidad and Tobago has breached the treaty.”

In opposition to this claim, the US ambassador said “Article 20 of the Rio Treaty makes it unambiguously clear that all measures imposed by the Organ of Consultation — like the travel restrictions on Ms. Rodriguez — are binding on all treaty parties, whether or not they voted in favor of such measures. I expressed concern to the Minister in that conversation about the consistency of Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to Port of Spain with Trinidad and Tobago’s obligations as a party to the Rio Treaty.” 

Things get even worse.

On May 7 opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar shared documents showing that officials from Venezuelan energy company PDVSA were in Trinidad. Among the listed Venezuelan reps was soon to be PDVSA president Asdrubal Chavez.

Chavez Immigration document leaked to Persad-Bissessar.

On May 8 prime minister Dr. Keith Rowley slammed Kamla’s claims and said he had no knowledge of any connection between Rodriguez’s visit and PDVSA. Only at a later date to admit the presence of Asdurbal Chavez.

Coincidence?

The government has confirmed on several occasions that the meeting was to discuss the Covid19 pandemic and issue of how each nation is handling the virus. Yet when asked in parliament Rowley admitted that no health officials from Venezuela or Trinidad were present in the meeting.

Don’t forget, this meeting took place on March 27. One day after its close, Paria Fuel Trading Company chairman Newman George said Paria was contacted by a Swiss-based company, ES Euro Shipping S.A, (on March 28) to negotiate for the sale of the fuel to Aruba

It was then found that “the principal of ES Euro Shipping S.A is Wilmer Ruperti, a Venezuelan shipping tycoon who is also linked to Maroil Trading. Maroil Trading had close ties with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and even reportedly ensured the country received fuel supplies in 2002.” 

Ruperti bought 150,000 barrels of fuel on April 21 from Paria. The fuel was said to be destined for a defunct Aruban refinery linked to a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA (Citgo). 

According to Guardian Media, the Aruban government has now distanced itself from that deal, telling Guardian Media it did not purchase a shipment of fuel from Trinidad and Tobago.” The Aruban authorities also made specific mention of the fact that their refinery has not been in operation since 2011.  

 US sanctions sure to come?

Two things done by T&T make US action seem inevitable.

  1. T&T violated the Rio Treaty by allowing the travel restricted Venezuela VP to enter the country. 
  2. T&T may have done violated Article 20 of the Treaty with the specific intention of helping Venezuela avoid the ramifications of US sanctions through the sale of fuel.

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