Kirk Meighoo and Rodney Charles
The UNC is pleased to learn that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago has finally engaged positively with one of our most important international partners, the United States, to navigate our sensitive position between it and Venezuela, particularly with regard to our vitally important energy sector.
Keith Rowley has put T&T in Danger
In the past, Keith Rowley has put this country in geopolitical danger with his reckless unilateralism, possible sanctions busting, and unnecessarily provocative statements against the United States, characterising them as our partners of the past and its rivals as our partners of the future.
This is nonsense. Trinidad and Tobago must remain a friend to all, in the interest of the development of our people and nation.
The UNC has duly warned this country of the possible perils every time Keith Rowley has needlessly put us in danger.
Sadly, PNM-compliant elements in the media have gone so far as to characterise Rowley’s dangerous adventurism and unilateralism as “realpolitik”, providing PR and spin services for Balisier House.
Keith Rowley has aligned the Government with UNC policy of cooperation
What has prevailed, thankfully – due to continuous pressure from the UNC – is that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago finally recognises that it must engage with all our partners as we forward our best interests. We cannot afford to be foolishly sabre-rattling in international conflicts.
Unfortunately, Keith Rowley and his allies in the mainstream media have gratuitously attacked the Opposition with an absurd narrative, in order to politically spin a nancy story about some mythical PNM wise management of geopolitical affairs.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Clarifying the UNC position on Venezuela
The PNM and its media sympathisers have deliberately misrepresented the UNC’s position on the Venezuela crisis. UNC policy was in alignment with the EU, US, the majority of Latin and South American states and Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, among others.
In light of the crisis there, which threatened civil war, we supported the Venezuelan Constitution’s provisions for the President of the National Assembly to resolve it by overseeing fresh elections. It was not about taking personal sides between Mssrs. Guaido and Maduro. In fact, Guaido no longer is the President of the National Assembly, and so he no longer figures in the equation.
The UNC wishes to see peace and stability in Venezuela so that we can proceed with joint development projects, and have prosperity in our region. We do not wish to agitate one side or another in a conflict in which we have no part.
Furthermore, we do not wish to invite sanctions on our country due to the reckless adventurism of the Rowley Government.
Thankfully, good sense has prevailed, and cooperation instead of confrontation is now pursued.
Keith Rowley’s narrative about the US license is absurd
However, it would do well to reflect on the absurdity of Keith Rowley’s narrative, which is apparent if one only steps back and thinks about it for a second.
How can it be seriously argued that taking a hostile position against the US has secured us a waiver of sanctions from the US?
Although it would be nice to believe that the US bent its knee to our strength, we somehow suspect the reality is less grandiose.
It is far more likely that the US has granted us the licence despite the Rowley Government’s hostility, not as a surrender to it.
This is because of the geopolitical situation of the Russia-Ukraine war, which requires new sources of natural gas to replace the massive quantities of Russian gas which are no longer being purchased directly by Europe.
This development follows the pattern of our other oil booms, driven by international conflicts such as the Arab Israeli War of 1973 and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. These developments benefited us greatly but, like this current development, had nothing to do with PNM management. In fact, those geopolitical developments saved us from previous decades of PNM mismanagement.
It is quite apparent that the PNM and their allies are desperate to try to bring the Opposition into their discourse when there was absolutely no need to do so.
A Critical look at the US Dragon Gas license deal
However, now that we have recalibrated our foreign policy to be in line with the UNC policy of international cooperation rather than confrontation, we must look at this deal critically with a view to the best outcomes for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
While we welcome the announcement, we are cautious about the benefits of a 24-month license for a project that will take 3 years to mature, in which the division of expenses and benefits are far from clear, in which economic sanctions and monetary restrictions still exist, and where the geopolitics which override everything are extremely volatile.
We also need to be careful about becoming too dependent on Venezuelan gas for our own economic development, especially given tendencies in Venezuelan politics for nationalism and expansionism, such as the territorial claims it has on Essequibo in Guyana, and sometimes even Trinidad.
Indeed, in this context, it is crucial that we deepen and solidify our energy industry interdependence with our CARICOM brothers and sisters of Guyana and Suriname.
We are also aware, however, that Keith Rowley has used the opportunity of having an international audience present at the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference to try to grandstand in front of the world about such a tenuous and uncertain development.
We certainly wish that this current deal works out in the quickest and best possible manner. However, we are wise and experienced enough to know that PNM political promises and grandstanding are not things which Trinidad and Tobago can bank on.
The UNC will always stand firm for the hard truth, to secure real development and prosperity for the people of Trinidad and Tobago, rather than political spin.