Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the Atlantic Council’s Front Page event on US-Caricom relations yesterday.

The United States and T&T have a good relationship but don’t see eye to eye on every issue, especially the Venezuelan issue.

In response to a question from the Sunday Guardian on the relationship between the United States and Venezuela and the United States and Cuba, the US Embassy said that the US wants what’s best for both countries but these countries must make democratic reforms if the relationship is to be improved.

This comes as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called on the US to improve its relationship with both countries for the benefit of the Caribbean region.

Rowley said the US “scorched earth policy” is wreaking havoc on Venezuela which is destabilising the region.

Speaking virtually as chairman of Caricom during a Question and Answer segment hosted by the non-partisan organisation the Atlantic Council on Thursday, Rowley also said the entire Caribbean would benefit from a significant thawing of the relationship between Cuba and the US.

In its statement, the US Embassy justified its position on Venezuela and Cuba with these points:

• While they have a good relationship with T&T, they don’t see eye to eye on every issue.

• The Biden-Harris administration is reviewing the US Cuba policy, but the main principle at the core of our efforts will be support for democracy and human rights through empowering the Cuban people to determine their own future.

• President Biden understands the pain the current crisis in Venezuela is inflicting on Venezuelans and their families. However, that pain is only the result of the dictatorship of Nicholas Maduro, which has left millions of people in Venezuela in need of humanitarian aid.

• The United States is the number one provider of humanitarian aid and the second-largest food exporter to Venezuela.

• The United States has stood with the people of Venezuela in providing them with this aid and in doing all that they can to ensure that their pressure on the former Maduro regime is not worsening the humanitarian implications and the humanitarian suffering of the Venezuelan people. That is why sanctions are designed to allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the export of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, medical devices to Venezuela.

• The recent repatriation of 100 Venezuelans from T&T demonstrates the humanitarian exemptions their sanctions program provides.

• They commend the T&T people and government for their humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelans who fled their country due to the former Maduro regime’s corruption, repression, and mismanagement.

The Cuban Embassy

The Cuban Embassy in its statement to the Sunday Guardian said the position expressed by T&T’s Prime Minister is consistent with the “courageous position” that Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and T&T adopted on December 8, 1972, to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, breaking the isolation that the US tried to apply to their country after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

“During all these years, the Caricom Member States have opposed in one way or another the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against our country.”

The statement added that Cuba has reiterated on multiple occasions its full willingness to maintain relations with the United States based on respect for differences and non-interference in the internal affairs of our countries, which encourages dialogue and cooperation.

“The creation of an environment conducive to dialogue and multilateral cooperation in the hemisphere will allow more effective action to confront the COVID19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the economic and social life of our populations.”