There is an adage which advises that one should remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt; an adage which the nation truly believed was being religiously adhered to by the Honourable Dennis Moses, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs.
Just when we thought that Dennis Moses would have escaped unscathed and position himself to vie for a second term as the head of the Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, he dared to open his mouth only to reveal the foolishness which most certainly is resident within his brain assuming that he has one.
Moses broke his silence to deliver in the Senate last week, the menacing pronouncement that Trinidad and Tobago is not bound by the Rio Treaty and that we made our position clear to the Organisation of American States (OAS) since June 2019 at the 49th session of the General Assembly of the OAS in Colombia.
This country seems to have a problem with its representation at the OAS because this is not the first controversy in which we have found ourselves embroiled and it is not the first time that we are drifting towards the dark shadows of international politics, thus alienating ourselves from the prevailing world view of our allies.
What could cause Moses to make such a pronouncement after the Ambassador of the United States clearly articulated that Article 20 of the Rio Treaty makes it unambiguously clear that all measures imposed such as travel restrictions on Delcy Rodriguez were binding on all treaty members regardless of how they voted. That is basically how democracy works.
One did not think it necessary for the American Ambassador or any of the 35 members of the OAS to have to lecture Trinidad and Tobago on the merits of collective responsibility. One also never thought that we would reach the point where we believe that not casting a vote or a negative vote could give us the latitude to do as we please, contrary to the will of any institution of which we are a member.
Moses’ folly has therefore placed us in the minds of many at the crossroads where we need to make a decision and make it fast regarding our membership status at the OAS before a consolidated vote is cast against us and we are kicked out from that august body.
What has emboldened Moses?
I am not sure what it was that emboldened Moses because, with all the brouhaha about Delcy Rodriguez’ visit, it seems rather odd for him at this time to make such a declaration. We received a measured scolding at the hands of the USA, a country which has the power to inflict pain upon us for operating contrary to their wishes. We felt the wrath of the Opposition who saw a breach of this treaty as an act to take this country down a path that would sentence us to failed state status like Haiti and Venezuela among several other countries which have been sanctioned.
We have even witnessed what appeared to be apologies based on ignorance of the contingent that accompanied Delcy Rodriguez when she visited this country after our borders were locked down and all pointed towards the recognition that we have in some way contravened the Rio Treaty.
Why now, when the dust is settling and the matter is being bracketed and contained, that Moses would raise the issue again to terrorize members of the OAS into believing that once Trinidad and Tobago do not support a treaty imposed by it, we are free to act renegade according to our wishes.
Is it because the Iranian tankers carrying oil was allowed to dock in Venezuela, that Moses in his infinite stupidity, believed that he could buck the OAS and the United States of America and demonstrate an uncanny brazenness by seeking alignment with the ones outside of the approval of the OAS?
Why now Dennis, why now? Why have you chosen this moment to display high levels of foolishness that contains the potential to hurt us and embarrass us? To Trinidad & Tobago Dennis is a menace.
Not the first time
This is not the first time under Moses’ watch that we have emerged before the OAS with egg all over our faces. The fact that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the blame for the contretemps when we voted contrary to the will of the membership when Dominica asked for a waiver of fees for 2018 and 2019 does not mean that she was fully responsible. The waiver had been requested by Dominica in light of the devastation caused there by Hurricane Maria.
Those who operate in the realms of good leadership are aware that the buck stops with the Minister, and they frowned at how Moses so easily threw his Permanent Secretary under the bus over the Dominica embarrassment to protect his hide.
Mr Moses, now that you have declared that Trinidad and Tobago’s position is antithetical to the thinking of the OAS community, what is your next step? What is it that you are proposing we should do?
Is it that you and this Rowley administration have agreed to withdraw our country from the OAS? This is a very serious question because you cannot sit as a member of the OAS and when a vote is taken contrary to your opinion you decide that it is no longer applicable for this country to follow!
Or is this earth-shaking revelation of yours last week some form of guile to lend support to Stuart Young and confuse us into believing that he did the right thing? Is your intention to get Young off the hook and, in the process, destroy us? Is that how the new PNM operates?
One would shudder to believe that your persistence in seeking to validate Delcy Rodriguez and recognize Nicolas Maduro is a plan to destroy a country at a time when the chances of winning the 2020 General Election seems slim for the PNM.
One would not want to accept that you, Mr Moses, prefer to see our country sanctioned in support of Rodriguez and Maduro rather than hold the neutral position that your vote or lack of represented when the Rio Treaty was placed on the floor.
The name Moses is synonymous with strength of leadership, characteristics which you have not shown since your appointment. Many waited with bated breath hoping that you would one day disappoint the naysayers with rhetoric that was erudite.
We wish that you had kept your mouth shut
Your current pronouncement is one of the reasons why we should be fearful of returning the PNM back into power because of the dangerous and precipitous paths to which people like you, Moses, and your leader are taking us.
We wish you had kept your mouth shut; we wish that your brain was placed into gear before your mouth was moved into action expectorating what can only be described as verbal diarrhoea that is of no use to any citizen in our country.
The only reason the USA has not moved against us as yet is that it is hoping that the people of this country see the dangerous and reckless roads upon which the PNM is prepared to traverse and somehow, they trust that the wisdom of the electorate will vote the PNM out.
If we fail to see the light, darkness will descend upon us and Dennis Moses will be nowhere around to help. For the sake of our country, get real, Dennis, and don’t be the menace that you have been these past four and one-half years.