The current Vice President of Venezuela and Head of its Intelligence Ser­vices, Delcy Rodriguez, presents a very powerful and influential figure. Not only is she a pedi­greed “Chavista” loyalist of the former President Hugo Chavez; she is also the trusted right hand of the current President of Ven­ezuela, Nicholas Maduro.

On March 26, 2020, the United States announced it had indicted Maduro for narco-terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering, with a bounty on his head of US­D15m. This effectively branded Maduro as a criminal in the eyes of the United States.
To date, Delcy has been sanc­tioned by several countries, in­cluding Canada, Mexico, Swit­zerland, USA and the European Union for breaching Venezuela’s constitutional order, her assets frozen and a travel bans issued against her after she “undermined democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela” and for “corruption and humanitarian issues”.
Despite this, the Minister of Na­tional Security, Stuart Young, gave instructions to lift the border lock­down on March 27, 2020, to allow Delcy to fly into the country in a US sanctioned aircraft YV3360, with a five-man delegation, in­cluding one Asdrubal Chavez, whom the US had already sanc­tioned, including revoking of his US Visa.
Minister Young’s statement that he was not aware of the passenger manifest, nor that the aircraft had been sanctioned and that, as Min­ister, he does not “drill down into the details”, is suspect, reckless and possibly an admittance of fail­ure to discharge his duties.
The subsequent fumbling and bumbling explanations by the Prime Minister that the Delcy del­egation was not introduced to him, nor did he know that the aircraft and certain persons in the Ven­ezuelan delegation had been sanc­tioned is simply unbelievable. The nation was told the meeting was solely about COVID 19, although no medical or health officials, on either side, were in attendance. We were also told by the Prime Minis­ter, at first it was a “courtesy visit”, then later that it was a meeting in connection with “national secu­rity”.

The plot thickened

It was also disclosed that sev­eral Venezuelans in the delega­tion were high ranking officials of PDVSA, the state-owned Oil Company in Venezuela. The plot thickened when the very next day, Paria Fuel Trading Company Lim­ited received a call from ES Euro Shipping in Switzerland to pur­chase 150,000 barrels of gasoline that allegedly ended up in Venezu­ela, a country crippled by a lack of gasoline.
It was later revealed that Mad­uro supporter, Wilmer Ruperti, owned ES Euro Shipping and had previously brokered deals to get fuel to Venezuela, despite US sanctions. The situation was fur­ther exacerbated when there was confusion as to the official final destination of the gasoline; first, it was Aruba then later it was St. Eustatius, a country with just over 3,000 people.
The official statement released by the US Ambassador, His Ex­cellency Mondello, is very telling as it directly contradicts the state­ment by Minister Young that at his meeting with the Ambassador, no concerns were raised as it pertains to the possible breach by T&T of Section 20 of the Rio Treaty.

Several questions

Having regard to flip-flopping and inconsistencies above, several questions have arisen; namely:

  1. Did Delcy send an official let­ter to the Prime Minister request­ing that meeting?
  2. Why did the Prime Minister agree to meet Delcy and others who have been sanctioned by the US?
  3. As is the protocol, how could the Venezuelan delegation not be introduced to the Prime Minister and his team?
  4. Why were minutes of the meeting not compiled?
  5. Was it coincidence or by de­sign that the very next day, being Saturday, Wilmer Ruperti’s com­pany contacted Paria Fuel to pur­chase 150,000 barrels of gasoline?
  6. How did Wilmer Ruperti come to know of the surplus gasoline held by Paria Fuel? Did Paria advertise the availability of this fuel to the world, or was it a specific outcome of the high-level meeting at the Diplomatic Centre?
  7. Noting that the gasoline al­legedly ended up in sanctioned Venezuela, contrary to Paria’s fuel sale agreement, will Paria invoke international sanction on Ruperti’s company for breach of contract?
  8. Noting that the breaching of Article 20 of the Rio Treaty has created a major international inci­dent, who is to take responsibility for breaching Article 20 of the Rio Treaty? Is Dennis Moses advice on the Rio Treaty last Tuesday cor­rect? He is this country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs,
  9. Who is to be held accountable for allowing a sanctioned delega­tion to enter our country?
  10. At this meeting was the im­pending arrival of the 5 Iranian fuel Tankers discussed?