Caribbean energy deals affected by US politics – PM Gonsalves
Dr Ralph Gonsalves
July 7, 2023
Caribbean energy deals affected by US politics – PM Gonsalves

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves arrives to the Caricom official flag-raising ceremony held at Chaguaramas Convention Centre, Chaguaramas.

Political pressures in the United States have led to the Caribbean not getting a fair shake concerning energy deals connected to Venezuela.

Speaking at the Hyatt Regency on [Wednesday] Prime Minister of St Vincent and Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, noted that the United States has been conveniently relaxing its rules for specific entities, yet showing another face to the Caribbean.

“In the case of Venezuela, as soon as there’s a problem in Ukraine, and the pipeline from Russia, the American government gives a bligh, as the Jamaicans would say, to the Europeans to go and deal with Venezuela in relation to oil. They give permission to Chevron to talk to Venezuela about exploiting resources and paying Venezuela in US dollars. But yet, you don’t want Venezuela to do it with PetroCaribe,” said Gonsalves, when asked about Caricom’s interest in the permission granted to T&T by the US to explore the Dragon natural gas field in Venezuelan waters.

The US granted Trinidad and Tobago a two-year licence to operate in the gas field.

On January 24, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s issued a licence to Trinidad and Tobago to develop the Dragon natural gas field, but with a stipulation that there must be no monetary payment.

The licence is “intended to enhance Caribbean regional energy security” and “means the island nation can do business related to the Dragon gas field with Venezuela’s heavily sanctioned state-run oil company,” PDVSA, according to government reports earlier this year.

“And that you’re still saying well, Trinidad can go and do a deal with Venezuela. Well, we’re not so sure if you could pay them in US dollars. Are you telling me that the struggle is between democracy and autocracy? Naked self-interest. Part of my job as the leader of a small, independent country is to point out these kinds of inconsistencies, positions which affect us negatively,” said Gonsalves at the Hyatt Regency, who stressed that despite disagreeing with its stance on these issues, his country continued to have a great relationship with the US.

However, he pointed out that much of the sanctions enforced by the US on Venezuela were connected to internal politics, but Caricom would continue to raise the issue.

“We have been pushing the United States of America. You have to understand this. No matter what the US government tells you about Venezuela and democracy and human rights, I don’t take those things at face value.

“US policy on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, they are prisoners of the presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional politics of South Florida.

“Because of the strength of the Latin vote, and particularly people, a significant number against the Cuban revolution against the changes taking place in Venezuela and Nicaragua,” Gonsalves said. (Trinidad Guardian)