Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has asked Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to provide clarity after she shared what appeared to be documents showing officials from Venezuelan energy company PDVSA arriving in Trinidad.
In a media briefing on Thursday evening, Persad-Bissessar said she was sent documents by a concerned citizen that appear to be plane manifest documents showing the arrival of people from the company on March 27, the day after the US indicted Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.
(Video via the UNC/Facebook)
“On March 26, 2020, the US Department of Justice indicted Maduro on charges of drug trafficking, narco-terrorism and money laundering.”
“On March 27 after these charges were made, Trinidad and Tobago opened its borders…to allow the Vice President of Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez and a contingent of persons into the country.”
She said that the reason for the visit was to discuss strategies for COVID-19, but is asking for clarity after receiving the documents.
“I have in my possession what purports to be…a customs general declaration, which I presume to be a passenger manifest for a private Venezuelan flight on March 27, 2020.”
She said she could not prove the veracity of the documents but has asked Dr Rowley to explain.
She said if true, these continued relations with the company, which has been sanctioned by the US government, raises questions.
“I want to ask the Prime Minister and National Security Minister, did Ms Rodriguez have in her company, apart from the flight crew, five other persons on that flight, one of whom was the president of PDVSA?”
“If this is true, I don’t see what they would want to talk about COVID-19.”
She also asked whether Dr Rowley met those people and what the conversation entailed.
According to media reports National Security Minister Stuart Young acknowledged that Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was given special permission to enter the country in March to discuss matters related to COVID-19.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley responded during a public address on Friday evening, slamming Persad-Bissessar’s accusations and saying they had no knowledge of any connection between Rodriguez’ visit and PDVSA.
“We are now discovering today that the aircraft they came on is a PDVSA aircraft which was sanctioned by the US.”
He said however that government has not committed any act which would constitute a breach of sanction.
He said the Trinidad and Tobago government has provided no support to PDVSA.
He added that Persad-Bissessar’s comments are reprehensible and dangerous.
“What the UNC is trying to do is stir that pot to upset the US hoping that they take action against Trinidad and Tobago. That’s an underminer that is dangerous to Trinidad and Tobago.”
This is a developing story, stand by for updates.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s response following a public address on Friday at 5.00 pm.