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posted 3 Jun 2013, 21:47 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 Jun 2013, 21:58 ]



The National Workers Union (NWU) calls upon the PP government to publish the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) it ratified with the United States on May 22nd 2013 the week before the visit of US Vice President Joseph Biden. 
The NWU, further, demands that the government stop binding the country to treaties with foreign governments and other entities negotiated in secret without the knowledge or approval of the people of the country. 
While Caricom negotiated the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the USA (TIFA) without the approval of the people of the Caribbean, at least it had the decency to
publish the agreement on its website so that it could be examined by whoever wishes to do so. This is more than could be said for the government of Trinidad and Tobago. 
Status of Forces Agreements usually deal with jurisdictional issues relative to foreign forces operating in a host country; their rights and privileges and the protocols governing their interaction with the host country. 
The National Workers Union finds it unsettling that the SOFA which is normally negotiated when there is a US base in the host country was insisted upon by the United States instead of a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which covers temporary deployment of military forces e.g. joint military manoeuvres, drug interdiction exercises or operations like the Summit of the Americas which was held in T&T in 2009. 

In 2009, the PNM government which wanted to negotiate a Visiting Forces Agreement for the period of the Fifth Summit of the Americas held in T&T in April 2009 caved in to the pressure from the USA and negotiated a SOFA which expired at the end of 2009. The country never learned why the PNM resisted the SOFA and what caused them to do a U turn or what the SOFA contained. 
Even former National Security Minister Jack Warner mumbled something about colonisation when he spoke of the SOFA but seemed too intimidated to elaborate on the then proposed agreement. 
There is much speculation that the SOFA may be part of a wider security arrangement which violates the sovereignty of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and obliges the government to facilitate US military operations against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as the USA seeks to take advantage of the unsettled political situation in our nearest neighbour in the wake of the death of Hugo Chavez. 
Colombia the USA’s leading client state in Latin America, which is now seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), already is host to at least five US bases on Venezuela’s western border. Is T&T to be used as an unsinkable US battleship in the mouth of the Orinoco River? 
The situation is even more worrying if it is factored in that the US fourth fleet which was disestablished in 1950 was re-established in 2008 as the naval component of the US Southern Command responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the
Caribbean, and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans around Central and South America
On 2013-03-06, in a media statement the National Workers Union alerted the people of Trinidad and Tobago to the danger that was facing our country. We stated: “The sovereign territory of T&T is in danger of becoming a hotbed of US subversion and sabotage against our revolutionary neighbour. 
T&T and the US have signed several trade and security deals…and we must keep our eyes open for increased US intelligence activity in T&T. 

The National Workers Union calls upon the people of Trinidad and Tobago to be vigilant in the face of an increasingly dangerous military situation in the Caribbean. The T&T government isn’t strong on the question of national sovereignty…to insist that the government does not allow our country to be used by the US to engage in imperialist destabilisation of Venezuela. 
Failure to do so will drag our country into a war of aggression (low intensity or otherwise) which may well see our people become collateral damage as the US pursues its goal of derailing the Bolivarian Revolution.”
It is interesting that the Prime Minister went out of her way to insist that the US was not going to establish a military base in T&T and that there were provisions favourable to T&T in the SOFA. The National Workers Union insists that the only way to get rid of the speculation and to put uneasy minds to rest is to publish the Status of Forces Agreement

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Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)

Gerry Kangalee,
3 Jun 2013, 21:47