At Thursday's official inauguration of Nicolas Maduro for his second term as Venezuela's President, this country's usually low profile Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses was prominent among the international dignitaries at the event which was boycotted by leaders across the hemisphere, including 17 Latin American nations, the United States, and Canada.
Many foreign nations regard the Maduro administration as illegitimate because many of his opponents were barred from contesting the election in which he claimed a resounding victory last May. It is an issue which has caused a widening rift within CARICOM as not all member states have adopted T&T's stance of maintaining strong ties to Venezuela.
It has often been argued that this nation's geographic proximity, as well as centuries-old social and economic connections to the South American nation, justify the maintenance of diplomatic relations. However, that completely overlooks the reality of the deteriorating political and economic situation in Venezuela, where out-of-control inflation and food shortages have triggered a migrant crisis that has deeply affected T&T and other neighbouring countries.
However, in terms of a foreign policy stance, this country seems to be acting like it is business as usual, which is borne out by the presence of Mr Moses at a presidential inauguration that has been condemned as a farce by so many countries in the Americas.
The cross border gas agreements still to come to full fruition between T&T and Venezuela might be the factor influencing the Rowley administration's support for the Maduro regime, even in the face of persistent, worrying reports of a creeping dictatorship and that country's increasing isolation in the region.
Clearly, there is a determination to do all that is possible to keep the Dragon gas deal alive, since this country's economic fortunes are tied to a steady supply from those abundant gas fields to fuel critical energy projects.
However, with increasing uncertainty about the viability of the Maduro government and pressure to cut back diplomatic ties, it might be time to take a critical look at T&T-Venezuelan affairs, lest this country finds itself in the jaws of a Dragon from which it cannot escape.
Tourism and safety
Long before the Boxing Day attack on British tourist Sally Wilson, who was injured during a robbery as she and her husband were sightseeing along the Queen's Park Savannah, there had been concerns about the effect of crime on this country's struggling tourist industry.
Still, the news of measures to safeguard visitors offers some hope that finally the authorities are making an effort to transform these two islands into safe destinations for visitors. Therefore, the initiative by Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell and National Security Minister Stuart Young should get full support, not just from industry stakeholders, but all citizens.