Defensor Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares//
Diplomacy and statesmanship needed

Yes­ter­day, two of Trinidad and To­ba­go’s top minds added their voic­es to a grow­ing call to the Gov­ern­ment to do what it must to mend the re­la­tion­ship with the Unit­ed States in the wake of a vis­it to this coun­try by Venezuela Vice-Pres­i­dent Del­cy Ro­driguez and an en­su­ing firestorm that has re­sult­ed in the US Am­bas­sador pen­ning an open crit­i­cism of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young‘s ver­sion of a con­ver­sa­tion they had on the mat­ter on May 6.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares

When lu­mi­nar­ies Mar­tin Daly and Regi­nald Du­mas speak, they bring years of ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge from po­si­tions of diplo­ma­cy to law and pub­lic ser­vice to the ta­ble. Mr Daly and Mr Du­mas told the pub­lic they are “deeply con­cerned” about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, which has the po­ten­tial to “grave­ly dam­age our coun­try.”

Over the past three days, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has been con­spic­u­ous in his si­lence on this po­ten­tial threat to the coun­try

To­day makes it six days since he last ad­dressed the na­tion di­rect­ly. Last Sat­ur­day at a me­dia brief­ing at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre, the PM re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about the is­sues sur­round­ing Ro­driguez’s vis­it, a mat­ter in which he and Mr Young are be­com­ing more deeply em­broiled in with every day that pass­es

The PM’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions since then have been brief, de­liv­ered from a dis­tance. A Face­book post about gar­den­ing on Wednes­day, just as the diplo­mat­ic fall-out with the Unit­ed States was de­scend­ing to a new low in­sult­ed the in­tel­li­gence of every fair-mind­ed cit­i­zen of this coun­try

Yes­ter­day, the Cab­i­net met but there was no ac­count­ing to the na­tion through a me­dia brief­ing

De­lib­er­ate­ly ig­nor­ing the tur­moil that is in­creas­ing in in­ten­si­ty, Dr Row­ley chose in­stead to send a so­cial me­dia post about be­ing award­ed $350,000 from a defama­tion law­suit against an op­po­si­tion ac­tivist

The PM’s deaf­en­ing si­lence about the bla­tant dis­crep­an­cies in Min­is­ter Young’s state­ments about Ro­driguez’s vis­it and the po­lit­i­cal storm build­ing since then is to­tal­ly un­ac­cept­able!

This is not a mat­ter that will fade in­to obliv­ion. Not when both men have been un­able to dis­pel claims of a breach of the Rio Treaty, a hemi­spher­ic de­fence pact to which T&T has been a sig­na­to­ry since 1967

The po­ten­tial for this sit­u­a­tion to de­vel­op in­to a full-fledged cri­sis, with se­ri­ous con­se­quences for this coun­try, is hard­ly a mat­ter that can be swept aside. It can­not be busi­ness as usu­al—some­thing that a man with Dr Row­ley’s po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence should know very well

The Prime Min­is­ter, as head of this ad­min­is­tra­tion, must face the na­tion and ad­dress the is­sue. There is too much at stake and the PM must say how he plans to fix this sit­u­a­tion We could not have put it bet­ter than Du­mas and Daly, who said: “While Min­is­ter Young is pedan­ti­cal­ly in­sist­ing that the Am­bas­sador did not use the word “breach”, if the Am­bas­sador spoke of the “con­sis­ten­cy” of the Venezue­lan Vice Pres­i­dent’s vis­it with Trinidad and To­ba­go’s oblig­a­tions un­der the Rio Treaty, what oth­er than a breach could he have pos­si­bly meant?”