News reports today state that PM Rowley attended the Tenth Special Emergency Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government via video-conferencing yesterday. I found it rather interesting that Rowley so readily utilized technology to participate in this important regional meeting.
You see, just five weeks ago, it was a different scenario. On March 27, 2020, AFTER he had closed off our borders to many of our own stranded citizens around the world, PM Rowley curiously chose to open them up for the SOLE purpose of having an in-person meeting with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.
The topic was ALSO Covid, incidentally. At least this is what he is claiming, amid serious questions as to whether this strange meeting was in fact the genesis of the very controversial Fuelgate matter. This concerns a gas fuel shipment from State-owned Paria Fuel Trading Company to Aruba on April 21, 2020, which allegedly ended up in Venezuela.
The US is investigating whether Rowley’s Government breached its sanctions on Venezuela via this alleged illegitimate deal. It is warned that Trinidad &Tobago could face US sanctions if found guilty, which can decimate our already fragile economy.
I have repeatedly called on PM Rowley to publicly declare that he will fully cooperate with this US probe but he has so far bluntly refused to do so. Now, I am calling on him to also publicly:
– Explain why did he not hold a similar teleconferencing meeting with the Venezuela VP Rodriguez
– Make all relevant documents public, such as the letters of invite and acceptance between the Venezuela and T&T Foreign Affairs and Health Ministries, the agenda, list of attendees from both sides etc, to prove the meeting was really about Covid
– Explain why he openly violated the Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which had imposed travel restrictions for VP Rodriguez since December 2019 by allowing her to enter TT
– She is already banned from travelling to the US, Canada, and the European Union, and this Treaty was binding on all member states, including Trinidad and Tobago
PM Rowley, as the Head of Government, simply cannot claim to not know about it.
– State if any Paria Board Member was present at this meeting
– Say if Paria purchased the shipment the day after this meeting?
– Say if the Paria Chairman took this decision without consulting the Board first
– State exactly when did the Paria Board ratify the sale of this shipment?
– Whether the Board held a meeting yesterday (May 5, 2020) to retroactively approve this sale?
The Paria Board Members are Newman K George (Chairman), Peter Clarke, Eustace Nancis, Christine Sahadeo and Reza Salim. The Chairman is also the husband of House of Representatives Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George.
During the Lower House Sitting of April 27th, 2020, the Speaker denied an Opposition motion to discuss Fuelgate. She also did not recuse herself from presiding on this matter, despite the apparent conflict of interest.
I patiently await PM Rowley’s answers on this crucial issue. Maybe today, he will finally decide to come clean on this matter. Rest assured, it will not be the last day that I demand truth, transparency and accountability from him and his Government on behalf of the citizens.
Stay safe and God bless.