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Handling Covid-19, Then Came Delcy

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By Alicia Chamely

 

IT appears that the universe’s greatest joke is the unfortunate reality that as soon as one part of your life comes perfectly together, another part will explode into disaster.

Sadly it seems our Government has found itself in the latter part of this cycle.

Let’s be honest, they were having their moment. Whether you chose to admit it or not, the Government has done a damn good job of preventing the rampant spread of Covid-19 virus.

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Had they not acted as quickly as they did, especially in regards to the closure of our borders, I’m pretty sure the virus would have affected much more people and crippled our already ailing healthcare system.

Public opinion was on the rise, even some of those who swore they would not vote come elections, began reconsidering their positions and some even started to prep their fingers for that ever lovely red coat of ink.

I have a friend who gets particularly aggressive when we discuss politics. In December she was ready to lead a coup d’état and watch the Red House burn. Today, despite her previous convictions, she will admit the Government did the right thing and that it took a pandemic to prove their effectiveness.

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While she may not be Red and Ready, the Government actions did cause many people who may have been sitting on the fence to sway a bit more on to their side.

Admittedly, the pandemic response had its hiccups. A week or so ago I expressed my concerns on the snail’s rate in which relief grants were being disbursed and the need for the Government to develop a better, more accessible system of emergency relief for both its citizens and the economy.

But all in all, they did what they needed to do and prevented an apocalyptic type situation where our health system collapses and the Queen’s Park Savannah gets turned into the home of a mass grave. For that they deserve every ounce of praise bestowed upon them.

Yup, things were looking up for the Government. They had managed to regain some sort of trust from the public, a tiny microscopic grain of trust, but trust none the less.

Then just as Keith & Co began to feel all safe and snuggly, Opposition Member Roodal Moonilal came storming in like a scorned woman at her ex-boyfriends wedding, loaded with information and speculations that shattered any and all trust the public had for the Government.

The mid pandemic visit by Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and the Paria Fuel Trading and ES Euro Shipping SA fuel deal, which saw a shipment of fuel designated for Aruba reportedly go to Venezuela, dragged us all into a never ending whirlpool of questions, speculation and fear that Uncle Donald (who is in charge of Uncle Sam) would revoke our visas  and slowly starve us through sanctions.

The entire situation is an especially complicated one that has many players. We still cannot get any satisfactory explanation as to why Rodriguez, who flew in on a plane owned by PDVSA while the borders where closed, was here. No minutes were taken at her meeting with the PM.

We were told it was regarding the pandemic, but the chief medical officer and other vital players in the health sector were missing.

I think this is really what set Moonilal off, the utter lack of clarity…which I personally find rich coming from someone who has been accused of some rather opaque transactions of his own.

But personal feelings aside, he did what those in Opposition have the job of doing – questioning the Government and demanding explanations of actions taken that they may feel pose a danger to TT.

Naturally this caused a lot of panic in the Government, so they nominated our perpetually blighted Minister of National Security Stuart Young to defend them and in doing so he made things go from bad to worse.

It all started with him not having any clear information on Rodrigez’s visit, so he tried to make us feel safe by discussing his chitchat with US Ambassador Joseph Mondello – “the Ambassador and I are BFFs, we just met, he’s not too concerned, no Rio Treaty raised. It’s all good in the hood!”

Mondello remembered the meeting differently and issued a release stating he did in fact bring up the Rio Treaty with Young and did express his concern over the circumstances around Rodriguez’s visit.

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So poor Young fired back that his words were misconstrued and yes the Rio Treaty was raised but no breaching of the Treaty was discussed.

Now the pitchforks are back out, the torches are lit and situation continues to get more convoluted.

Then we throw in the Paria Fuel Trading and ES Euro Shipping SA fuel deal, which has all kinds of red flags, clauses, receipts and roundabouts attached.

Sold to a company registered in Switzerland, owned by a US black listed Venezuelan businessman, meant for Aruba but then diverted to Venezuela, which is a no-no move in US/TT relations. Uncle Donald and Uncle Sam too do not like it when we shake hands with their enemies, sovereign state or not.

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Whether we knew where the fuel was going or not, it looks pretty suspect that this happened just shortly after Rodriguez’s mystery-shrouded visit.

Essentially the entire thing is extremely iffy. The Government and Paria insist they did nothing wrong, but after Young’s lack of information and then back tracking on what was or wasn’t said regarding Rodriguez’s visit, you cannot blame the population for having some trust issues.

As such, any praise the population bestowed upon the Government a mere month or so ago, has now been completely eclipsed by what is shaping up to be a complete foreign relations disaster, riddled with mistrust.

But then again Trinbagonians have short memories, so by next week we should find something else to be either happy or disgruntled about…wait what were we talking about again?

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