Trinidad and Tobago has abstained from voting on an Organisation of American States (OAS) Resolution on Venezuela. The resolution, among other things, declared that Venezuela’s General Elections, held on May 20 “lacked legitimacy” because it did not meet international standards and was “carried out without the necessary guarantees for a free, fair, transparent and democratic process.” The vote, which took place late last evening, was one of the final acts on the agenda at the group’s General Assembly, held in Washington, DC.
The resolution also implored Venezuela to allow humanitarian aid into the country. It stopped short of expelling the South American nation from the Organisation, despite calls from the United States to suspend Venezuela’s membership in light of its “sham” elections, where despite reports of fewer than 50 percent of voters turning out, incumbent President Nicolás Maduro won in a landslide, with over just over six million votes, nearly two million more than his nearest opponent. Out of the 34 members, 19 votes in favour, including the US; four were against, including Venezuela; and 11 abstained, including TT.
Last December, incidentally, TT also abstained from a UN resolution denouncing the United State’s decision to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was passed 128-9, with 35 abstentions. The country is, however, navigating a diplomatic quandary because the United States is one of TT’s closest allies in trade, cultural ties and foreign aid, while Venezuela is its closest neighbour, with just seven kilometers separating the two nations at their closest points. TT is also on the verge of signing a major deal with Venezuela to develop the Dragon natural gas field. It is unclear whether this country has extended congratulation to Maduro on his election. When asked last week during the post-Cabinet media briefing, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he wasn’t in the country during the election and passed the buck to then acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert. Imbert had been asked the same question the week before and claimed that he was unaware the election had taken place. He did say, though, that this country has maintained a policy of non-interference regarding the activities of other sovereign nations.