I read with interest and great concern a report in the daily newspapers on Tuesday, under the caption, “T&T backs B’dos, blanks Pompeo’s meeting”. The commentary of the Honourable Rodney Charles, who is widely quoted, lacks substance and is dangerously ill-­informed.

The US is our largest trading partner and home to a majority of our nationals in the diaspora. However, such elements of profound ties, even having regard to the tremendous disparity in size and power between the US and T&T, ought not to preclude a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding.

Diplomatic ties which demand that this country responds to a summons, cap-in-hand, as it were, abandoning long-standing underpinnings of our foreign policy—self-determination, sovereignty, non-intervention, non-interference, and regional integration—in a whimsical and opportunistic manner, would be irresponsible, unprofessional, and ultimately inimical to our national interests. If not a transparent attempt to exacerbate division in a body already divided, why was the invitation not extended to all? Maybe the invitation was never intended for Caricom, but to “like-minded Caribbean states”, the DR apparently being on the list.

Such a notion would be entirely appropriate, as the concept of “like-minded” is widely accepted in multilateral diplomacy. Whatever the motivation, its practical effect is certainly not helpful to advocates of our integration movement.

In supporting the position of Barbados not to attend, and in standing with Caricom, as a whole, the Rowley administration demonstrated maturity, wisdom and rectitude, as has been done in the past, from Williams through Chambers, Robinson, Manning, Panday, and, yes, Rodney, Kamla!

We have successfully adhered to our principles on Cuba, on China, on Grenada, on Venezuela, as well as the issue under reference, while being a friendly partner to the US.

Supported by all previous prime ministers, the imperatives of our foreign policy are, or should be, beyond partisan politics.

We can stand true to our principles, support Caricom, and be a good neighbour to all in the hemisphere, as we have always done, and sometimes in opposition to the US, and even our Caricom partners.

Are we to understand that the views of Rodney Charles represent the views of the UNC? If they do, has the UNC abandoned the cardinal tenets of our foreign policy? If this is not the case, what is the position of the UNC on these important issues, beyond merely attempting to castigate and embarrass the prime minister and foreign minister?

Terrence AL Walker

former chairman

PNM Foreign Affairs Committee

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We are deeply disturbed by the Government’s incremental response to the COVID-19 pandemic which we fear runs the risk of delivering too little too late.

In time to come, when future generations write about us, about our behaviour during the great war against COVID-19, they may well resort to the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, which was set in a tumultuous period in European and world history, 1775-1792.

When is an exemption to closed borders not an exemption after the borders are closed?

I will return to this riddle, but let me first note that the limited testing for COVID-19 has been expanded in obvious response to queries about its previous deficiencies.

I have been the severest critic of this administration for the past four-and-a-half years.

I have chastised them unrelentingly for their economic mismanagement that has taken the nation to the precipice, stranded in a fading energy sector and no new foreign revenue streams incubating; the national debt reaching an unsustainable $120 billion,

Just a few weeks ago it was possible for T&T’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, to indicate in a major speech, that the Caribbean as whole had a potentially very bright future as a major western hemisphere oil and gas supplier. He had good reason for saying so.

In response to my column of three weeks ago, “Black Betrayal”, a critic attacked me in a slanderous manner.

Mercifully, the Express deleted the more vitriolic aspects of his original letter.