Rowley to write UN about Richard Blewitt …”A DIPLOMATIC FIGHT”

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Well, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is picking a fight with the United Nations (UN) over its representative in this country, Richard Blewitt.

Rowley is upset with comments made by Blewitt and other agencies over Government’s deportation of 82 Venezuelans last Saturday. There was also criticism by Amnesty International, and concerns from the Living Waters Community.

This is the same Rowley, as head of Government, who has failed to attend the last three United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York. He sent lame duck Dennis Moses, the Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs.

On Thursday, Rowley reminded all that Trinidad and Tobago is not a refugee camp.

Well, only last week, Rowley was talking about the problems which Caribbean people are experiencing in Britain over the Windrush issue. Remember, that was the same Rowley who blanked a meeting called by British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the Windrush situation. Instead, Moses and High Commissioner Orville London went to the meeting and remained silent.

After this failed opportunity, Rowley then spoke out about the Windrush situation, complaining about lost opportunities, especially for Trinidad and Tobago nationals – health care, jobs etc.

Now the Venezuelans are asking for the same things – jobs, healthcare etc. But a different Rowley is saying this country is not a refugee camp.

What would Rowley say if Theresa May decides tomorrow to deport all Trinidad and Tobago nationals from the UK?

Rowley is saying that the 82 persons deported ran afoul of the laws of this country. Really Rowley?

Thirteen persons who were seeking asylum in Trinidad and Tobago were on that list.

Last Saturday, a Venezuelan military aircraft landed at the Piarco International Airport to take the 82 back to their homeland, drew criticism from UN Resident Coordinator, Richard Blewitt.

Rowley, who was out of the country, said he was very satisfied how Government handled the deportation.

He said Trinidad and Tobago was governed by laws, while we are a generous and caring people “and we demonstrated that over and over again” by opening our doors to Venezuela.

Addressing Blewitt’s comments directly, Rowley said he would not allow anyone to paint a different story of our country.

He added, “We will not allow, without protest, public servants from any international agency to misrepresent our circumstances to the world and stay in Trinidad and Tobago. Against that background, I as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will, under my hand, write a complaint to the United Nations at its headquarters about the conduct of persons who take it upon themselves to speak about Trinidad and Tobago.”

Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago has been very careful and responsible in carrying out its affairs. But he said the image painted was that this country behaved in a unbecoming manner, which was the furthest from the truth.

He stated, “If officers of the United Nations are to talk about Trinidad and Tobago, especially those who are in Trinidad and Tobago and know our circumstances, then the least we can expect from them is to stay with the facts.”

He also said he would not allow UN representatives to make Trinidad and Tobago  into a refugee camp, noting this country’s relationship with Venezuela was based on mutual friendship.

Rowley said there are arrangements in place to allow Venezuelans to come here to obtain food and medical supplies, following which they would leave. However, he said as the crisis worsened there, there was now a proliferation of Venezuelans entering our shores illegally.

He said many Venezuelans had come through the back door and continued to stay illegally. Rowley said people who knew of illegal Venezuelans exploited them for cheap labour, prostitution and all manner of evil. He said there were also those who came with guns and ammunition.

He added, “Let me draw to the attention of those who have a lot to say, the people who were in those detention centres were not put there because they were Venezuelans. They were put there because they ran afoul of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. And it hurts me when people in this country appoint themselves spokespersons for our country that have nothing good to say about this place and seek to put us in the worst possible light where our interest is not defended.”

Rowley said Government has been handling the situation carefully because if it didn’t “it could create serious problems for us. There are people who want us to join them in invading Venezuela, we are not doing that.”

As for Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara Rosas, who also criticized the way in which the Venezuela nationals were repatriated, Rowley said that was better left unsaid.

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DR KEITH ROWLEY

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RICHARD BLEWITT

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