By Sue-Ann Wayow
DR Roodal Moonilal, Member of Parliament for Oropouche East has joined the voices that have called for government’s intervention into the FSO Nabarima that is dangerously threatening to create what he describes as a crisis in the Caribbean.
Speaking during the United National Congress (UNC) virtual budget report on Monday, Moonilal said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley should engage in talks with his “comrade” Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro to deal with the pressing environmental issue.
The MP also commended the group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) led by Gary Aboud for raising the issue and advocating for a speedy resolution.
Moonilal said, “Two months now, the New York Times flagged that issue. Delcy Rodriguez, Vice President could have come to Trinidad violating our national law, rules and regulations but Keith Rowley cannot talk to his comrade Nicholas Maduro to send a team to inspect that vessel in two months and to take mitigating and preventative measures in the event that we have the biggest environmental disaster in the western hemisphere on our backdoor.”
UNC’s political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also repeated calls for intervention on Monday night.
In a statement published on the United States Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago website on October 16, the Embassy stated, “The United States remains concerned by the potential risk to safety and environment posed by the Venezuelan-flagged vessel, Nabarima, in the Gulf of Paria. We strongly support immediate actions to bring the Nabarima up to international safety standards and avoid possible environmental harm, which could negatively impact not only the Venezuelan people but also those in nearby countries. PdVSA (Venezuela state oil company) has a responsibility to take action to avoid an environmental disaster in Venezuelan waters.”
The Embassy added, “As a general matter, the United States’ Venezuela sanctions program is not designed to target activities addressing safety, environmental, or humanitarian concerns. These activities to avert an ecological disaster are consistent with U.S. policy to support the Venezuelan people and avoid further harm to the environment.”
On Monday, President of the American Chamber of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) Patricia Ghany also called on government to intervene even if it meant applying international pressure.