VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro being sworn-in for a second term will result in more refugees coming to TT and this Government’s continued association with his “illegal regime” will hurt this country’s international image, says Bertha Sun Kow of local Venezuelan advocacy group Refugee Voices of the Caribbean.
Sun Kow, speaking in a telephone interview, said it was estimated there were about 3,000 Venezuelan refugees currently in TT but with Maduro “naming himself as president” yesterday the numbers will increase as Venezuelans continue to face shortages of food and medication, a lack of security and attacks by the Venezuelan regime.
She pointed out the European Union has not recognised the new regime and the Organisation of American States has also broken ties.
“It is very wise to see how this is playing internationally and learn from that. How is this affecting us in Trinidad? We have a lot of international trading partners in the Americas and Europe.”
Sun Kow said she saw Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses on television as he attended Maduro’s inauguration yesterday and heard Maduro thank him for his attendance.
“I do not know nor understand what the foreign policy of the Government is.”
She said TT was associating with someone with an internationally dubious reputation.
“What is the wisdom behind sending Minister Moses to an event that lacks legitimacy? Only the Government can answer that. What is this going to do our international image? We do not live in isolation but we are part of a global community and we trade with very important partners.”
Sun Kow commented on the Dragon gas deal between the two countries and said because Maduro was not a legitimate president the agreement will not stand in international court. She added when Venezuela returns to the diplomatic process the agreement will be called into question.
She described Maduro as a “de facto dictator” and compared him to fascist Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini and said he was a little like Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“Why do we want to deal with someone like that? I cannot believe Dragon Deal will bring so much bounty to Trinidad and Tobago that we risk our international standing by associating ourself with a criminal regime?”
Three attempts to contact Venezuela ambassador to TT Coromoto Godoy Calderon via telephone yesterday were unsuccessful.