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Venezuela’s crisis our concern

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Venezuela’s crisis is our concern. As the world press reports more on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela our government is busy forging even stronger links with our neighbour.

We seem so intertwined that even the earthquake, which had its epicentre in Venezuela, also shook us up last Tuesday.

Despite that event, Venezuelan authorities still considered going ahead with sending a delegation to Port-of-Spain to ink a deal for the retrieval and use of natural gas from our common territorial waters.

A rethink of the circumstances has resulted in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley leading a high-level delegation to Caracas to sign the Dragon Field agreement.

It is Venezuela which launched the PetroCaribe facility to assist several Caribbean countries by offering them concessionary prices on oil and encouraging the governments to use the savings to look after the welfare of the most vulnerable in our countries.

Even as Venezuela fights off its economic challenges, the Government has not stopped the PetroCaribe facility which has benefited several regional countries. The latest UN report on the flight of Venezuelans from their homeland to neighbouring countries suggests that the conditions there are such that many people have opted to take the risks of crossing to another country in search of a better situation for their families.

T&T has seen the influx of Venezuelans over the last year, many of whom have come with skills which have allowed them to work and become a part of our society. But the latest migration news does raise our concern that there could be a significant flight into T&T. We are concerned that the arrival of more Venezuelans is likely to raise society’s concerns about their impact on our country.

The reality is that Venezuela has continued to live up to its commitment to share their resources with the region and it behoves us to be grateful for that continued commitment. We should find ways in which to embrace Venezuela in its time of crisis and help however we can to ease the pressure that their citizens now undergo.

After all, that’s what we expect of good neighbours.

We should plan our earthquake response

We must again remind how crucial it is for both the Government and private sector interests to have a crisis response plan if we have a further earthquake or other natural disasters. It is fortunate that the earthquake came at a time when most of the public and commercial operations had closed for the day.

However, we wish to remind all concerned that the challenges raised by worker interests should never be discounted as grandstanding or a nuisance. Instead, response plans should detail the exact reaction to these kinds of events and not leave open opportunities for doubt.

We are fortunate to be able to conduct a post-mortem and finalise our plans for the next event. It is a requirement, a necessity, and a must if we are to protect life and property and minimise the impact of natural disasters.


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