Retired international relations lecturer Dr Anthony Gonzales says the latest call for Trinidad and Tobago to withdraw from the Rio Treaty may put the country in an “awkward’ position but said leaving may not be a bad thing.
“It is up to us to decide whether the treaty is in our interest. But I am not really sure that that treaty is really of much use, I think that treaty is outdated,” Gonzales said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Gonzales said most of the Caricom partners were not part of the Rio Treaty and the Bahamas and Haiti are the only two that joined as well.
“If we getting involved in all of these tangles with people forcing us to sign on to things which are not in our interest, then it might be in our interest to come out of it,” he said.
He said it was only in times of social upheaval that T&T would benefit from being a part of the Rio Treaty.
“The benefit is only in the event that you are attacked by another country that you can call upon the others to help you defend your country but that was relevant in the context where you had a cold war and it was felt that the Russians were coming into the hemisphere and would probably attack,” he said.
“But that has become passe now, I don’t think anybody is looking to come into the hemisphere here and attack anybody.”
Gonzales also said if another country in the hemisphere decided to attack T&T, he was sure we would be able to find allies to assist.
“I can’t see the relevance of a treaty that is harping that you have to follow the desires and wishes of one country,” he said.
“I know other countries withdrew and I haven’t seen any negative fallout from them coming out. They feel freer, they are not tied into commitments that may not be in their interests so we have to sit down and look at that.”
Gonzales said that based on what the US State Department said yesterday, T&T is bound by the recent agreement.
“If you call a meeting and they decided on something which you don’t think is in the interests of our country, or in the interest of collective defence for which the treaty was signed, well I think it is up to us to decide whether it is serving our interests,” Gonzales said.
However, he said if the Government decided to stay with the treaty then they had to ensure they were not forced into a situation where they are being forced to go against Venezuela.
“There are consequences involved and there are evaluations that the country has to make. I don’t know if we enjoy anything special from that treaty and we have to be careful how we are being pushed to take sides,” he said.
In its 73-year history, several countries have withdrawn from the treaty. Uruguay withdrew just last year but sought to re-enter in March. According to international reports, Uruguay left the treaty over the same attempt to impose new sanctions on Venezuela. In rejoining the treaty, Uruguay said remaining a member provided more benefits than leaving, although not specifying what the benefits were.