US State Dept troubled by T&T’s Rio Treaty stance

The US State Department has suggested that Trinidad and Tobago withdraw from the Rio Treaty if it is not willing to abide by decisions made by the member countries.

The directive came from the US State Department on Monday as it responded to continuing questions on the relationship between the two countries after T&T refused to abide by amendments to the treaty made last year in relation to the visit of Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez.

“Trinidad flouted this decision by allowing (Delcy) Rodriguez into the country. If Trinidad and Tobago does not want to abide by treaty terms, maybe it should withdraw,” the US State Department said in a statement to Guardian Media.

The US State Department has said before that it believed T&T broke the treaty by allowing Rodriguez into the country for a meeting on COVID-19-related matters. But this is the first time this arm of the US government has called on T&T to withdraw from the 73-year old agreement if it was intent on maintaining its sovereignty on matters involving the Nicolas Maduro-led Venezuela regime.

The US State Department’s stance adds another layer to the weeks-long debate about the relationship between the two countries since the March 27 meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Rodriguez.

Both Rowley and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses are on record saying that T&T is not bound by the tenets of the December 2019 Rio Treaty vote and that the country was instead abiding by the UN General Assembly and Caricom stance that recognised the legitimacy of the Maduro regime.

However, the US State Department said it was “concerned” Moses would make such a statement.

“We are concerned that the Trinbagonian Foreign Minister asserted that his country is not bound by the Rio Treaty, a 73-year old pact which Trinidad joined in 1967,” the State Department said.

When Rio Treaty members voted to abide by more sanctions placed on Venezuela by the United States in December 2019, T&T abstained from the vote while Uruguay voted against it. The vote passed by a 16-1 majority.

The US State Department made it clear that although T&T abstained from that vote the country is still bound to the agreement.

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