It’s one of those rare occasions, maybe the only one I’ve ever had since writing this blog for www.poorboyspaper.com, in which congratulations are in order for both the PNM and the UNC simultaneously. In the context of a nation with a history of alleged corruption by both parties, there is a legitimate disenchantment with the way politics is conducted, or has been conducted in Trinidad and Tobago over the years. It’s sometimes extremely difficult to find the bright spots in the clouds of doubt (no wonder the enormous support and admiration being met out for the Commissioner of Police’s efforts). But meeting the Venezuelan Ambassador to Serbia just a day ago was one bright spot for sure. After sitting through what was an informative but somewhat lengthy lecture, the ambassador Dr. Dia Nader de El-Andari straddled over, energetic and with a broad smile on her face. It was a somewhat sad occasion given that this was her final farewell after seven (7) years as the Ambassador to Serbia. She’d previously served as the Venezuelan Ambassador to Syria but appeared to have certainly made strong and lasting connections during her time in Serbia. The sadness of the moment however certainly didn't phase her mood. She asked, in Spanish of course: “Where are you from?” It had to be translated because unfortunately my Spanish is still horrendous. I told her: “Trinidad and Tobago”. It was the happiest I’d seen a person in a long time. She almost jumped up in outright glee. “You’re a Venezuelan!” She insisted. "Trinidad and Venezuela are soo close..." knotting her two pinky fingers together to symbolize as tight a bond as possible. “This is your house”, referencing the embassy, “You’re a Venezuelan!”
Although my purpose at the embassy was to garner support for a youth organization that my colleagues and I are about to launch, the conversation fast drifted toward the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
The relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela has a long history, and quite frankly I'm no expert on the inner workings of our energy arrangements, immigration ie. asylum policy, or even the political inner-workings as it concerns our two states. What I do know however, is that contrary to the narrative forwarded by the international media ie. Washington Post, Reuters, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela's relationship has consistently been strong. It's amazing to read articles by US based press organizations that nit-pick the deficiencies which may exist in the Trinidad and Tobago immigration system while turning a blind eye to the present US foreign policy of actively destabilizing the South American nation and effectively causing the loss of life in the Bolivarian Republic. The United States over the last three administrations, including that of Barack Obama, has been hostile to Venezuela. On the other hand, from Prime Minister Patrick Manning to Kamla Persad-Bissessar to Dr. Keith Rowley, Trinidad and Tobago, regardless of our relationship with the US, has been an unquestionable ally to Venezuela. This ought to continue.
Even with the close relationship which we have maintained with Venezuela, I don’t think we fully understand the risks that Venezuelan leaders since Hugo Chavez have taken to stand up against the imperialist behemoth that is the United States,- on the basis of principle and to the detriment of their own nation's general well-being. The fact is that Hugo Chavez, and by extension Nicolas Maduro (and that entire revolutionary generation in Venezuela), took a moral stand for all small and developing nations to have the right to take independent positions and express their own self-determination. Whether it was against the morally reprehensible destruction of life in the US Iraqi invasion of 04' or other expressions of US neo-colonialism throughout the word, Hugo Chavez and Venezuela (now Nicolas Maduro) always provided a voice to the voiceless. That’s why they’re forever deserving of international support from all freedom loving peoples across the world, especially as US policy has sought to break the will of the Maduro revolutionary government and the country itself. Credit to both parties in Trinidad and Tobago & leaders Dr. Keith Rowley & Kamla Persad Bissessar for taking positions in support of Venezuela consistently (probably one of the only things our two main parties have ever agreed on). Meeting the Venezuelan Ambassador to Serbia, affirmed not only that Trinidad and Tobago had done well on the international level, but also that on the local level we can actually agree on something.
In 2016, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela signed what the Venezuelan President called "historic" trade deals in energy, commerce, and security. Hopefully we continue in our unwavering support to our brothers and sisters south of the boarder. Viva La Revolucion!
Mikhail E.D. Byng was born in Trinidad. He is the author of Off the Island and a graduate student at the University of Belgrade. He speaks Serbian and English.
Trinbagonian. Traveler. Believer in God. Believer in Creation. Life long Student. Sports enthusiast.