Divisions in Caricom aren’t new since one of the things Caricom has been struggling with is speaking with one voice and T&T has been a forerunner in seeking this, says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
“Speaking with one voice is an objective, it’s a potential and we always work towards that. It’s not always achieved, but we always travel in hope of arriving at the best destination,” Rowley added in Parliament yesterday.
He was replying to Opposition queries on whether developments in Venezuela may have rendered Caricom vulnerable and more susceptible to “competing bilateral alliances” which now hold the potential to undermine recent Caricom’s initiatives to quicken the pace of its Single Market and the Economy (CSME).
Rowley said to pretend that division in Caricom is new or could be avoided by the action of any prime minister “ ... is to be naive or mischievous. Caricom has 14 nations, many of which guard certain positions very jealously. In recent times, the Venezuela issue was one of the few times Caricom spoke with one voice.”
On yesterday’s meeting by US President Donald Trump with four Caribbean leaders - from which T&T and Caricom were excluded - Rowley replied to UNC MPs, “I don’t know that T&T or anyone was deliberately, unwittingly or accidentally invited to anyone’s private home. The invitation wasn’t to Caricom, we don’t go around begging for invitations.”
Rowley reiterated that the Caribbean invitees - Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti and St Lucia - were members of the Lima Group of states and the Caribbean countries which weren’t invited, aren’t part of the Lima entity. He added that the actions of the Lima Group aren’t applicable to T&T.
He said he’s constantly in touch with Caricom colleagues and the chairman, but he wasn’t the one to say what his colleagues think about the meeting. Rowley said Caricom has a caucus that responds on such issues.
Nor does T&T have any relationship to repair with the United States on the issue.
“As far as I’m aware, there’s no tear in TT-US relations. The US remains a friendly country and in so far as having a disagreement on the approach of Venezuela, it has nothing to do with the relations between the people of T&T and the people of the US - notwithstanding Opposition’s efforts to create that kind of division!” Rowley added
Rowley rebuffed UNC MP Rodney Charles’ query on whether his “coldness” caused T&T’s exclusion. He said he didn’t know that anyone who dined with controversial French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and “sold T&T out for a plate of food” should be concerned about T&T’s position.
On whether Government would distance itself from Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro’s regime if the situation there deteriorates, he said T&T would “take appropriate action at the appropriate time on any issue.”