Government is maintaining its position of non-interference in Venezuelan affairs after Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses attended a Caricom meeting in Barbados to participate in a conference call with Venezuela's self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido.
Moses told the media on Sunday that he does not rule out talks with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. On Saturday, Moses attended a previously undisclosed meeting with other regional Foreign Affairs Ministers in Barbados and participated in the video call.
The meeting was facilitated by Canada, according to Caricom.
He was back in the country on Sunday and attended the opening of the multi-million dollar Diego Martin Sporting Complex with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Moses said that the Government had not backtracked on its previous hands-off position as it relates to the political leadership of Venezuela, but said Guaido's presentation contained new information.
"Yes, in a certain quarter, certainly," Moses said in response to questions from the media yesterday.
His attendance at Saturday's meeting is now raising questions about whether the Government has reversed its previously held policy that it would not interfere in the social, economic and political collapse of that country. Instead, Trinidad and Tobago has stayed neutral and offered the country as a safe space for dialogue.
"It represents but a continuation in expressing our impartial position that would have been nourished and nurtured over the recent past and at least over the last two, three years and that allows us to have further talks with all the parties concerned and stakeholders to this ongoing difficulty in Venezuela," he said.
Commenting on the development, Princes Town Member of Parliament Barry Padarth on Sunday weighed in on Moses' attendance at the Caricom meeting on Saturday.
Padarath attended the Phagwa celebrations in Palmiste, San Fernando said: "By the Prime Minister's actions he is truly living in a fool's paradise because that rest of the world, starting with the United States is starting to isolate Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
"The Prime Minister has found himself in a quandary and what he is trying to do is to backtrack at this point and say we are talking to everyone but the Government has already taken a position," he said.
"You cannot say that you are taking a position where you are not taking sides and then at the same time saying that you are supporting the government of Maduro," he said.
A statement from Caricom stated the meeting was in keeping with a decision of Caricom Heads of Government "to provide good offices in facilitating a peaceful resolution to the Venezuela crisis through a meaningful internal process."
"Caricom Foreign Ministers acknowledged the meeting as a significant initial step in a series of potential engagements that should unfold by agreed mechanisms, within the framework of the Constitution of Venezuela and the rule of law. The meeting provided a greater understanding of Mr. Guaido’s views and perspectives on how to move forward in the search for peaceful solutions, as well as his willingness to take part in meaningful discussions. The participants accepted the benefit of further engagement," the statement added.
On Friday, the leaders of four Caricom nations were hosted by United States President Donald Trump. Those four nations sided with the US in its support of Guaido over Maduro.
At that meeting Trump promised financial investments to the countries that stood with him in his support and recognition of Guaido as the elected leader of Venezuela.
Rowley denied that he was snubbed by Trump because of his neutral stance on the unfolding crisis in Venezuela.
- Renuka Singh