The United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Joseph Mondello broke protocol on Tuesday, issuing a statement in which he all but accused National Security Minister Stuart Young of lying about a conversation which they had on May 6 about the visit of Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to T&T.
Mondello, via a press release, said he did, in fact, discuss T&T’s breach of the Rio Treaty with Young during the meeting. Mondello said he expressed his “concern to the Minister in that conversation about the consistency of (Venezuelan Vice-President) Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to Port-of-Spain” and the country’s obligations to the Rio Treaty.
The US Ambassador acknowledged the rarity of such a public response from an Ambassador on a matter discussed with host governments.
“Normally, I do not comment on private conversations with host government officials,” Mondello said.
However, he “affirmed” that he and Young did, in fact, discuss the Government’s March 27 meeting with Rodriguez and that T&T had breached the Rio Treaty when Rodriguez was allowed to land in the country.
But in a response to Mondello’s statement last evening, Young said his comments in the Upper House were “misconstrued.”
“I never said that the Ambassador did not raise the visit of Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez nor did I say that the Ambassador did not raise the Rio Treaty,” Young said.
“What I said was the breach of treaty was not raised.
“The Ambassador did speak to me and I did not indicate what we spoke about. I do not believe it was proper to provide the details of our discussion.”
Young said that the “only thing I said, in response to a question raised in Parliament, was that no breach of the treaty was raised; meaning that it was not positively put to me that Trinidad and Tobago has breached the treaty.”
Young reiterated that the United States of America remains an important ally and Trinidad and Tobago continues to have a good working relationship with mutual benefits to our two countries.
He also noted that an extract of his statement on the issue was available on Hansard.
The Rio Treaty, otherwise known as the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, is an agreement between countries in the Western Hemisphere as part of a mutual defence system.