Kamla: Rowley’s narrow focus on Venezuela will cripple Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

A DECISION by the US not to renew a temporary licence that eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector would have “severe implications for the future of Trinidad and Tobago,” United National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said.

Reuters reported on April 15 a US State Department spokesperson as saying the US will not renew the temporary licence, expiring on April 18, “unless progress is made by President Nicolas Maduro on commitments for free and fair elections this year.”

Venezuela’s national election is due on July 28.

Persad-Bissessar, speaking at a UNC public meeting in Moruga/Tableland in the night on April 15, said this will spell economic disaster for this country.

Because of the government’s ineffectiveness in diversifying the economy, she said, it is now banking “heavily on cross-border gas deals like the Dragon (gas) project with Venezuela.

“Both (Prime Minister) Rowley and (Energy Minister) Stuart Young (have put) all the nation’s hopes and dreams in the hands of Venezuela by placing all of our national eggs in that one basket,” she said. “Time and again we caution against such a narrow focus.

“If this Reuters report is factual…(You may feel) it will not impact you – but it will impact all of us, because if we don’t have oil and gas, if we don’t have the energy sector (because) this government has developed nothing…no other streams of revenue…”

The news report painted an unlikely scenario for the licence’s renewal.

“The Biden administration,” Reuters reported, “holds out little hope that Maduro will make enough concessions before the April 18 deadline to satisfy US demands. US and Venezuelan officials met secretly in Mexico last Tuesday, but a source familiar with the talks said they made little or no progress on narrowing their differences.”

It suggested, however, that even if the US does not renew the licence, it could issue a more restrictive licence in its place.

Venezuela’s oil exports reached a four-year high in March.