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Friday, September 22 2017 @ 08:07 PM AST

Venezuelan state governor fears US may attack from Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, Colombia

The United States of America can attack Venezuela from any of several military bases in Curacao, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago, a Venezuelan state governor, and former national defence minister, told a regional youth and sport rally Friday (August 18).

Under the heading "Deployment of the military is necessary", a statement from the western Venezuelan state of Trujillo said Governor Henry de Jesús Rangel Silva "fully rejects the serious threat of military intervention posed by US President (Donald) Trump."

Himself a retired army general who served as Venezuelan Defense Minister under former President Hugo Chavez, Rangel said: "It is necessary, from now, together with the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB), to deploy our people in military exercises in defence of the country." Rangel was one of the original insurrectionists who, led by Chavez, attempted to overthrow the Carlos Andres Perez regime in Venezuela in 1992.

Rangel told the Trujillo gathering: "Based on my 30 years' experience in the military, I can say it is necessary to make the people aware of this serious threat. We must inform them of the reality: how they can attack us using military bases located, one in Curacao, seven in Colombia, one in Trinidad and Tobago; a US military force with lethal capacity, as much by air as by sea as by land; a military fleet directed by the (US) Southern Command that surrounds our Venezuelan coasts."

It is not the first time Venezuela has expressed concern over the presence of the US Southern Command near Venezuela. In June, the Venezuelan government, through statements on government-run Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV) denounced the annual US military exercises with Caribbean countries known as TRADEWINDS.

The statement came after an April 6 testimony by the admiral in charge of the US Southern Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee in the Congress building in Washington. "As you're well aware, when I mention the word 'Venezuela', tomorrow, in the newspapers of Caracas will be stories that the US Southern Command is engaged in operations against Venezuela. Nothing could be further from the truth but the reality is that the enormous economic instability that's taking place in Venezuela affects the entire region, and the Organisation of American States (OAS) is watching that very closely, and taking, I think, very important action," Admiral Kurt Tidd testified.;t=17m30s

"The statements of the admiral have been rejected by the government of Venezuela and they add to the actions of the United States to exert pressure on Venezuela, including the OAS sessions in which they are trying to apply the Inter-American Charter to this country," the RNV statement said.

"Besides, the (US) declaration of Venezuela as a 'threat to the national security of the United States', which seeks to justify a foreign intervention, as repeatedly stated by the government of Venezuela, remains in effect," the RNV statement said.

Participating in TRADEWINDS 2017 were Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Netherlands, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, a June 6 statement from the Barbados government said. Military personnel from the United States, Canada, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom also participated, the Barbadian government said.

Barbados welcomed the military exercises, which Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said, during its 33-year lifespan, have ensured that the region has been able to provide a united response, whether against transnational organised crime, violent attacks or in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster.

On July 27, the US Embassy in Port of Spain issued a separate statement about the visit of General Raymond Thomas, commander of the US Special Operations Command. The US Embassy said: "Supporting the US' longstanding security partnership with the people and government of Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday (July 26), US military officials led by the Commander of US Special Operations Command, General Raymond A. Thomas III, met with their government of Trinidad and Tobago counterparts to discuss ongoing relations and coordination in their mutual efforts to protect the region from trans-national criminal organizations. We greatly appreciate the support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and its security forces and look forward to continuing these relations."

Speaking last Monday (August 15) at Pineapple Drive, Mausica, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said: "I must acknowledge the partnership between the government of Trinidad and Tobago and the government of the United States of America to strengthen this country's national security architecture. In fact, the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) through the Embassy of the United States in Trinidad and Tobago assisted with funding in the sum of US$600,000.00 for the construction of this National Emergency Operations Centre. On behalf of the Government and my Ministry, I must say we are most grateful for your collaboration.";mid=1517

In a separate development, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis announced in an August 24 statement, Cabinet’s approval of Trinidad and Tobago’s participation in a CARICOM Climate Change Centre Climate Change Adaptation Programme. This programme is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the amount of US$25.6 million, and will be implemented by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Climate Change Centre.

As part of the programme, Trinidad and Tobago will have to undertake activities to establish centralized institutions for the location of environmental and climate elated data and information for easy access and management, establish systems to monitor the status of coral reefs, utilize satellite images and Geographical Information System (GIS) tools for decision making, training and capacity building for national technicians and local experts to support the incorporation of risk and hazard assessments in the planning and decision making process.

In June, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Francisco Palmieri met with Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Rowley and discussed Venezuela, among other issues. For more visit:


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