A group of Venezuelans who are living in Trinidad and Tobago are questioning the relationship between the Government and Nicolas Maduro regime, in light of the questions surrounding the legitimacy of Maduro’s new regime.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dennis Moses attended Maduro’s presidential inauguration ceremony on Thursday. Several other countries around the world opted not to recognise Maduro’s new term.
The Venezuelan presidential elections, held last May, were held several months before they constitutionally due and according to several observers did not meet the minimum standards for transparency.
This has lead to the European Union, the United States, as well as members of the Lima Group, which comprises of 13 Latin American countries. Canada as well as the Organisation of American States not to recognise the Maduro’s presidency.
Peru banned Maduro and 93 officials of his government from entering their country while Paraguay cut diplomatic ties with Venezuela on Thursday.
However, based on the Minister Moses’ appearance at the event, it appears Trinidad and Tobago does recognise his office. Communication Minister Stuart Young told reporters at Thursday’s post-Cabinet press conference that T&T is a sovereign country that continues to have good relations with Venezuela. Venezuela is T&T’s closest neighbour, just seven miles away.
Austin Agho, a Venezuelan observer who resides in Trinidad but continues to monitor the situation at home, said the T&T Government is an awkward position.
“T&T is in a difficult position, needing to appease Maduro in order to access the Dragon Field,” said Agho.
The Venezuelan President came to Trinidad in December 2016, to discuss the Dragon Field gas deal with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. The deal was officially signed in Venezuela in August last year.
But the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term may also be problematic for that agreement, Agho said.
“Unfortunately, the legality of the deal is very much in question, given that one, the approval of the Venezuelan National Assembly is required for treaties and deals; and two, the fact that Maduro is no longer President,” said Agho.
Members of Caribbean Refugee Voices, Beatriz and Monica Joseph, two Venezuelan residents in Trinidad, also questioned the status of T&T deals with Venezuela during an interview on CNC 3’s the Morning Brew yesterday.
Monica Joseph said the country had seen little returns from their exchanges with Maduro so far, pointing to the distribution of supplies to the South American country prior to Dragon Gas deal being finalised.
“I think it is something we need to question here in Trinidad, our relationship with Venezuela, what does it benefit to us?” asked Joseph, “As the public, we need to question our government and find out exactly what are their dealings are with Venezuela.”
They also raised concerns about the government’s stance given the deteriorating state of affairs in the country.
“It’s pretty grim, it’s kinda like the rotting of a country from the inside,” said Monica Joseph who, however, felt Venezuela was not totally lost from a democratic standpoint.
She believes outside intervention is needed.
“From the inside, it’s a bit hard to do anything, you come up against a lot of walls if you try to do anything democratically,” said Joseph.
Maduro first assumed the Venezuelan Presidency following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013.