Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday accused the Opposition of trying to undermine Government’s efforts at meditation in Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis.
He caused an uproar when he used the word “traitors” in his response to a question from Naparima MP Rodney Charles. Rowley withdrew the statement following loud objections by the Opposition.
The drama unfolded after Charles asked how soon Caricom expected to bring opposing parties in the Venezuela crisis to the negotiating table.
Rowley shot back that the Opposition spent “all their time trying to undermine the natural initiative with respect to finding mediation as a replacement for intervention.”
He said Caricom was in no position to bring anyone to the table.
“Caricom has initiated diplomatic intervention to put an alternative to the situation whereby mediation is being offered. Meaningful dialogue and negotiations are to follow,” he said.
Rowley said countries that have taken a non-intervention position “have accepted the initiative and in the very near future more definitive information would be available with respect to the initiatives of Uruguay, Mexico and Caricom.”
Not satisfied with Rowley’s response, Charles accused the PM of “imputing improper motives to the UNC.” Rowley shot back calling the Opposition “traitors” which triggered the uproar.
“How could you call us traitors in this House?” Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal shouted across the floor.
Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George rose from her chair and instructed Rowley to withdraw his statement.
“I withdraw that statement, Madam Speaker,” a visibly upset Rowley said.
In a follow-up question, Charles asked Rowley for Government’s views on Maduro’s statement on Russian television that under no circumstances would he hold fresh elections in Venezuela.
Rowley said the Government had “no responsibility for what Maduro or any person says on any tv.”
Charles pressed further, asking if the Government or Caricom had reached out to Guaido to determine if he was amenable to Caricom’s mediation.
“Trinidad and Tobago’s position is crystal clear—we have opened our doors at Caricom speaking with one voice to all sides in the Venezuelan issue under the understanding that the difficulties in Venezuela are the matter for the people of Venezuela,” Rowley said.
During the sitting, Annisette-George turned Princes Town MP Barry Padarath’s requested for debate as an urgent public matter on Government’s continued recognition of Maduro as President of Venezuela.