Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

In raising the issue of sanctions, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday called for a “reset” in US/Venezuela relations.

Addressing the Atlantic Coun­cil’s Front Page event yesterday, the Prime Minister said: “We would like to see a dispassionate, early review of the US “scorched-earth policy” here since as the United Nations assessment confirms what we always knew, and that is that the ineffective, harsh policies of unilateral sanctions are contri­buting immensely to widespread, additional, indiscri­minate human suffering in this Caribbean nation which needs help, a compassionate ingredi­ent which is not beyond US leadership.

“We anxiously look forward to the United States playing that leadership role with Caricom and the nations of Mexico and Norway to assist Venezuelans in solving their seemingly intractable political problems. A compassionate ingredient...is not beyond US leadership.”

The Prime Minister was asked by Brian Butcher, seni­or adviser for International Gov­ernment Relations at Shell, what he would encourage the Biden administration to do as it evaluates the consequences of sanctions against Venezuela.

Speaking both in his capa­city as Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister and chairman of Caricom, Rowley said: “What I would like to ask the new US administration to do is to reset and give the dialogue a chance.... The United States has the stature and the interest to bring the Venezuelan parties to a table, with the support of Caricom and other nations, read the riot act to everybody and agree, as they all agree, that Venezuelans must solve Venez­uela’s problem, not only in the interest of Venezuela but in the interest of all of us who are codependents.

“So I will ask the (Biden) administration not to be wholly influenced by the dogmas of the recent past and the hawks of the recent flyings. But to look at it with a clean tabletop, and we are convinced that it is possible that some solutions can be had so that sanctions can be removed,” he said.

Welcome thaw

The Prime Minister recalled that the sanctions imposed on Venezuela brought a halt to the Dragon Gas deal between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

He said Venezuela was Caribbean and Cuba was Caribbean.

“We know the nature of the issues and the history of the challenges in both areas, however, we were very disappointed when the US recently reversed the very welcome, halting steps towards normalisation of the relationship, and most recently, the announcement of the unconvincing designation of Cuba as a terrorist-sponsoring state.

“We believe that this is one place where climate change would be welcome. We could all benefit from a significant thaw here,” the Prime Minister said.

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