US Ambassador Joseph Mondello

It’s the Nicolas Maduro regime’s fault!

“The responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela lies squarely with the failed policies and abuses of the Maduro regime,” US Ambassador Joseph Mondello said yesterday.

The US Embassy issued Mondello’s statement yesterday where he weighed in on the current controversy concerning T&T’s recent deportation of a group of Venezuelans and related issues.

Mondello said the US continues to work with T&T to help mitigate the consequences of the crisis which has emanated from Venezuela’s problems.

He said, “In September, the United Nations’ Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela documented that since 2014 – long before the current OAS and US leadership took office – Venezuelan authorities under Maduro have committed grave human rights violations and crimes in violation of international law, including extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force.

“At the same time, the economic incompetence of the Maduro regime has thrown a once prosperous, resource-rich country into poverty and turmoil. Many blame sanctions, but the Venezuelan economy was in free-fall long before the United States began to impose sanctions in August 2017 and the European Union in November 2017. Venezuela’s gross domestic product shrank 5.7 per cent in 2015 and another 18.6 per cent in 2016.

“At the same time, inflation topped 180 per cent in 2015 and 800 per cent in 2016. Oil production, the lifeblood of the Venezuelan economy, had fallen to 2 million barrels per day by the end of 2016, a level not seen since 1990. It is Maduro and his backers, not sanctions, who are to blame for the millions of Venezuelans living in dire economic conditions and who have fled their homes since he assumed power.”

Mondello added, “Until free and fair elections under the watchful eye of reputable international observers are available to the Venezuelan people, the status quo will continue. Refugees, guns, gangs and drugs originating from Venezuela will continue to plague the region until democracy returns to the Venezuelan people.

“We continue to work with Trinidad and Tobago to help mitigate the consequences of this crisis, and we look forward to the day when Venezuelans feel safe and secure enough to return home and rebuild their country rather than seek refuge elsewhere.”