Naparima MP Rodney Charles is condemning Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Dennis Moses, for his reckless statement that TT is not bound by the Rio Treaty and the Resolution which imposed travel restrictions against Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.
“Nothing is further from the truth,” says Charles, TT’s former Ambassador to the United Nations. “In fact, having ratified the Rio Treaty since 1967, we are bound to its obligations unless, according to Article 25, we expressly denounce it in writing. How then could Moses make such a colossally misleading statement? Or has the Government secretly denounced the Rio Treaty in writing?”
Through his statement, Moses’ recklessness has threatened the economic survival and well-being of T&T and has virtually invited sanctions upon us.
Here are the facts:
- Article 61 of the OAS Charter specifies that a “Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs shall be held in order to consider problems of an urgent nature and of common interest to the American States.” This therefore broadened the scope of the Rio Treaty beyond being simply a defence pact.
- On September 23, 2019 a Meeting of Consultation was held in which 16 of the 19 OAS States supported a Resolution calling for the placement of sanctions on Venezuelan Officials linked to the Maduro government. TT abstained from this vote. However, this Resolution was approved since it received an absolute majority of assenting votes.
- Article 20 of the Rio Treaty states that decisions of the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs are binding on all states that are signatory to the Rio Treaty. Therefore this includes T&T.
- Although Article 19 of the OAS Charter states that “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State”, Article 23 of the OAS Charter also states that “Measures adopted for the maintenance of peace and security in accordance with existing treaties do not constitute a violation of the principles set forth in Articles 19 and 21.”
In other words, the Resolution under the Rio Treaty concerning the Crisis in Venezuela does not violate Article 19 of the OAS Charter and therefore, a State cannot simply ignore the Resolution in this regard.
Moses has therefore put TT at odds with major trading partners based on this significant foreign policy discordance.
He claimed that TT reserved the right not to be bound by any decision adopted in this resolution since it did not recognise this resolution to be valid.
However, there is a procedure that needs to be followed. You cannot just decide to not abide by its stipulation by ‘vaps’. You need to denounce the Treaty outright and in writing.
Although Rowley and his Government recognise Maduro as the President of Venezuela, they cannot simply disregard our international allies and obligations because they disagree with the decision.
Does this PNM administration not understand the implications of being diplomatically isolated from the 16 regional jurisdictions who voted in favour of the sanctions against Venezuelan officials?
Furthermore, is the Minister’s, and by extension the Government’s, rejection of the Treaty somehow related to the shipment of TT oil which ended up in Venezuela and the controversial meeting of PDVSA officials in TT for which a straight story is yet to be discerned?
It all boils back to the blatant disregard by Rowley and his administration of TTs obligations as a member of the OAS when they allowed sanctioned Venezuelan persons within our borders. By doing so, they have exposed the entire country to potential repercussions, including sanctions. It is the latest in the saga of their complete incompetence, locally and internationally, and they must be held accountable.
MP for Naparima