OPPOSITION LEADER Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling for all “Fuelgate” documents to be laid in Parliament and is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to tell the truth on the gasoline sale.
In a news release yesterday, Persad-Bissessar stated she was compelled to respond to Rowley’s deceitful rant against her.
She said local and international media reports stated that Trinidad and Tobago is being investigated by the United States for violating its sanctions against Venezuela.
She noted this concerns the fuel shipment from the State’s Paria Fuel Trading Company, which left T&T’s shores on April 21, 2020 for Aruba, and was then possibly sent to Venezuela.
Persad-Bissessar said that instead of providing “cogent and credible responses to this crucial matter, the Prime Minister resorted to his infamous bullying, employing his tired and useless “blame Kamla” mantra as his only defence”.
Persad-Bissessar noted Rowley chose to “bafflingly accuse” her and certain citizens of inviting these potential US sanctions when in fact they have absolutely no influence over the operations of the US government.
She accused Rowley of distractions “to get away with this alleged shady deal”.
“Unfortunately for him, he cannot deceive or bluff his way out of US intelligence and surveillance. His strange, futile attempts to do so therefore makes him look like, at best, an overconfident fool,” she stated.
Persad-Bissessar said that Rowley must publicly declare that he is in fact fully cooperating with US investigations into this “fuelgate” fiasco.
She stated he must contact the US Embassy and State Department to give them all necessary documentation to prove that Trinidad and Tobago is indeed an innocent party in this matter.
She said Rowley’s “defence brief” should include a comprehensive explanation as to why Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez was allowed into T&T the day after she, President Nicolas Maduro and 14 government officials were indicted in the US on narco-terrorism charges.
Persad-Bissessar said it must also include the order form, request, management vouchers, Board approval/notes/minutes from Paria Fuel Trading Company to show that the fuel shipment in question was made before Rodriguez’s visit, as well as all signed reports, research and other relevant documentation from Paria to prove that the company conducted all required due diligence before proceeding with this shipment.
In an interview later yesterday, Persad-Bissessar defended her support for the Maduro-led Venezuelan government in 2015 while in 2020 she is against it.
She explained why she went from supporting Maduro in 2015 when she was prime minister, to supporting Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, who declared himself president in January 2019.
At the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April 2015, Persad-Bissessar had objected to the United States executive order against Venezuela, signed by then US President Barack Obama, declaring Venezuela a threat to US national security.
The order authorised the American government to freeze any assets in the United States held by seven Venezuelan law enforcement and military officials whom Washington identified as being responsible for human rights abuses or violations of democratic due process.
Persad-Bissessar told the Express yesterday that when she spoke in 2015, the Maduro regime was not viewed as an illegitimate government.
“When that event took place it was a different situation in Venezuela, at the time we didn’t have what many view now as an illegal election and therefore an illegitimate government. So it’s a major difference,” she said.
In 2018, Maduro was re-elected in what was deemed an illegitimate election, prompting nations globally to denounce him and support Guaidó.
In a release on Saturday, Prime Minister Rowley criticised Persad-Bissessar’s support of Guaidó and accused her of inviting US sanctions to this country as he dismissed allegations that T&T was being used to ship gasoline to Venezuela.
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley conveniently distorts the truth as she noted that it is not just the United States which supports Guaidó and views the present regime in Venezuela as being illegitimate but dozens of countries as well.
Persad-Bissessar pointed out that there was also support for governments in Guyana on both sides of the political divide there, but now there is concern about the legitimacy of the elections as was the case in Venezuela.
“The last election held in Venezuela as the last one in Guyana caused great concern as to the legitimacy of the government. My call was for them to step down and have a proper election, let the people decide in a fair and transparent manner,” she said.