US: T&T violated Rio Treaty with Venezuelan VP visit

The Unit­ed States Em­bassy has said that Gov­ern­ment vi­o­lat­ed the 73-year-old Rio Treaty when Venezue­lan Vice Pres­i­dent Del­cy Ro­driguez land­ed in the coun­try.

“Del­cy Ro­driguez is sub­ject to trav­el sanc­tions that are bind­ing on all Rio Treaty par­ties, and Trinidad and To­ba­go is a par­ty to the treaty,” the Em­bassy said.

The Rio Treaty, oth­er­wise known as the In­ter-Amer­i­can Treaty of Rec­i­p­ro­cal As­sis­tance, is an agree­ment be­tween coun­tries in the West­ern Hemi­sphere as part of a mu­tu­al de­fence sys­tem.

The treaty pro­vides for mu­tu­al as­sis­tance if an act of ag­gres­sion threat­ens the peace of the West­ern Hemi­sphere.

Back in Sep­tem­ber, the sig­na­to­ries met to dis­cuss and vote on whether to em­ploy the re­gion­al treaty to im­pose sanc­tions on Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.

In that meet­ing, con­vened by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Amer­i­can States, 16 of the 19 sig­na­to­ries agreed to abide by the Rio Treaty and sup­port­ed us­ing the agree­ment to col­lab­o­rate on law en­force­ment op­er­a­tions and eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Maduro and his as­so­ciates.

T&T ab­stained from vot­ing at that meet­ing but the coun­try is still bound by the agree­ment. Uruguay vot­ed against it and Cu­ba was ab­sent.

Speak­ing to the me­dia af­ter that ab­sten­tion, Row­ley said that the vote was an at­tempt to put pres­sure on Venezuela by use of mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion.

The Em­bassy’s Pub­lic Af­fairs Sec­tion al­so yes­ter­day said that the is­sue of the gas ship­ment from T&T to Aru­ba is still en­gag­ing US at­ten­tion.

“The US gov­ern­ment is aware of re­ports in­di­cat­ing a ship­ment of gaso­line from Trinidad and To­ba­go may have gone to Venezuela,” the Em­bassy said.

“In gen­er­al, en­ti­ties and in­di­vid­u­als risk ex­po­sure to US sanc­tions by op­er­at­ing in the Venezue­lan oil sec­tor or ma­te­ri­al­ly as­sist­ing, spon­sor­ing, or pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial, ma­te­r­i­al, or tech­no­log­i­cal sup­port for, or goods or ser­vices to or in sup­port of, PDVSA or oth­er per­sons des­ig­nat­ed or iden­ti­fied un­der rel­e­vant sanc­tions au­thor­i­ties,” the Em­bassy said.

“This re­mains true re­gard­less of how the trans­ac­tions with Venezuela are con­duct­ed, whether us­ing cur­ren­cy or in-kind ex­changes, and with­out re­spect to whether such con­duct is oth­er­wise le­gal un­der an­oth­er coun­try’s laws,” the Em­bassy said.

It said that they are al­so aware that some com­pa­nies en­gaged in the Venezue­lan oil trade at­tempt to dis­guise the true na­ture of their busi­ness.

“The US gov­ern­ment will ac­tive­ly in­ves­ti­gate all ef­forts by Maduro and his sup­port­ers to cir­cum­vent US sanc­tions and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion against those de­ter­mined to be en­gag­ing in sanc­tion­able ac­tiv­i­ty, as well as those who are found to be vi­o­lat­ing US sanc­tions,” it warned.

On March 27 T&T lift­ed bor­der re­stric­tions and the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty al­lowed Ro­driguez and a del­e­ga­tion from the Venezue­lan en­er­gy com­pa­ny PDVSA to en­ter the coun­try and meet with Row­ley.

The Op­po­si­tion raised ques­tions about the list of at­ten­dees, say­ing that the pas­sen­ger man­i­fest showed a ma­jor­i­ty of PDVSA ex­ec­u­tives ac­com­pa­nied Ro­driguez. The pas­sen­ger man­i­fest list­ed As­dur­bal Jose Chavez Jiminez, who was named pres­i­dent of PDS­VA weeks af­ter the vis­it, Ale­jan­dra Car­oli­na Basti­das Gon­za­lez, Ken­ny An­to­nio Di­az Rosario, Eu­clides Nep­tali Sanchez Romero and Juan Vi­cente San­tana Mag­li­cion who is the cur­rent vice pres­i­dent of gas at PDVSA.

Since then the Gov­ern­ment has de­fend­ed it­self say­ing that nei­ther Row­ley, Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young nor For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Den­nis Moses was aware of who else was in the meet­ing.

Young said that the en­tire del­e­ga­tion did not meet with the prime min­is­ter, just Jiminez. But de­spite the small num­ber in that meet­ing, they were not in­tro­duced.

Both Row­ley and Young al­so de­nied know­ing that the plane be­longed to PDVSA or was on the US sanc­tion list.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 8 of the Rio Treaty, in the case of a fall out the chiefs of diplo­mat­ic mis­sions would be re­called, there would be a break of diplo­mat­ic re­la­tion, a break off of con­sular re­la­tions, the im­po­si­tion of a par­tial or com­plete in­ter­rup­tion of eco­nom­ic re­la­tions or of rail, sea, air, postal, tele­graph­ic, tele­phon­ic, and ra­diotele­phon­ic or ra­diotele­graph­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions; and use of armed force.

T&T is bound by the con­di­tions set out in Ar­ti­cle 20.

“De­ci­sions which re­quire the ap­pli­ca­tion of the mea­sures spec­i­fied in Ar­ti­cle 8 shall be bind­ing up­on all the Sig­na­to­ry States which have rat­i­fied this Treaty, with the sole ex­cep­tion that no State shall be re­quired to use armed force with­out its con­sent.”

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