Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Trinidad and Tobago

Newsline: Trinidad and Tobago staff at Embassy in Venezuela concerned about security

Staff at the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Venezuela have expressed concerns about their security, reported Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses. He was responding to a question in the House on the reasons for the recall of staff at the TT Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela in early 2019. He replied: “The situation in Venezuela is one that warrants close and continuous monitoring to ensure proper and ongoing management of the relations between Trinidad and Tobago and that country.” (https://newsday.co.tt/2019/06/10/tt-staff-at-embassy-in-vzuela-concerned-about-security/) Moses said it is a practice of foreign ministries to avail themselves of this option when the situation dictates and when the issues to be addressed are of particular concern to the Government of a sending state. “Given the ongoing issues in Venezuela, it was deemed necessary to undertake such consultations with staff of the TT Embassy in Venezuela. Significantly it gave the ministry the opportunity to address concerns relating to the security and well-being of staff and their families.”

Newsline: Body found in Trinidad and Tobago may be El Salvador embassy worker’s

The body of a man was found in bushes on Warren Road, Cunupia in a Toyota Fortuner SUV. While police have not confirmed an identity as yet, they believe the dead man could be Jose Tito Rivas, an El Salvador Embassy driver. Cunupia police got a report yesterday, at around 9 am, about a car found on the road near some bushes. When they checked, they found the body wrapped in a sheet in the car. The car, which had the registration number PCM 321, is said to be registered to the El Salvador Embassy, where Rivas worked. Rivas was also reported missing, and was last seen in St James according to police. Calls to the embassy went to voice mail.


Newsline: Trinidad and Tobago to open embassy in China

More than thirty years after China opened its Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island state is set to open its Embassy in Beijing before the end of the year. At a press conference following bilateral talks with the President of China, Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that the twin island republic also plans to establish a Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Institute which would be attached to the Diplomatic Mission in Beijing.


Newsline: Trinidad and Tobago to open embassy in China

Within a month Trinidad and Tobago will open its embassy in Bejing, China, more than 30 years after China established its embassy here in T&T. On June 20, 1974 China established diplomatic relations with T&T and in April of 1975 the embassy was established. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran sees no issue in the delay in reciprocating. “It is all a matter of timing,” he said. According to a document from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1974 T&T has entered into 40 bilateral agreements with China, where, “many of these agreements have included financial arrangements in the form of grants and interest-free and concession loans.” To forward the county’s interest in strengthening bilateral relations, Dookeran said the Government is about to send two “young diplomats” to study and learn the diplomacy requirements of China. The Chinese are known to be very particular about protocol. “Within a short time they will go to physically establish an office, the preparatory work is being done. Cabinet has already approved the setting up of the Bejing office.” Within a month, Minister Dookeran said a core group will be sent to staff the embassy office, while he anticipates it will take another three to six months to have the mission fully staffed and functioning to optimum.


Newsline: US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago denies carnival ban

US Embassy officials have denied knowledge of imposing a ban on Carnival masqueraders passing near its building on Marli Street, Port-of-Spain. But a release from the National Carnival Commission (NCC) said during a meeting, members of the T&T Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) raised concerns about the US Embassy’s proposed “ban” on bands passing outside its building on Queen’s Park West. “Who is the embassy to tell us, after all the years we’ve been passing there, that we cannot?” queried Gerard Weekes, executive member of the TTCBA. Last week, Capt Neville Wint, chairman of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA)’s Parade of the Bands route sub-committee, said because of security concerns, the Carnival parade would not be allowed to pass alongside the US Embassy. However, public affairs officer at the embassy Alexander McLaren said that he knew nothing of any such ban.


Newsline: US$700,000 allocated for T&T embassy upgrade

Government’s draft estimates for 2012 showed that the cost of the building which now houses the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Washington DC was US$11million. The draft estimates also showed that approximately US$700,000 was allocated for refurbishing the embassy. The embassy is featured in the July/August issue of US architectural magazine Home and Design, showcasing some seemingly expensive updates to the property. The embassy, on Embassy Row, at 1708 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC, underwent extensive renovations.


Newsline: US Embassy investigating ex-employee following aircraft deal

The United States Embassy has been conducting queries into a former employee who is a director of the Trinidad and Tobago Air Support Company (TTAS), the company with which Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs signed a TT$900,772 lease for light aircraft services. The US Embassy confirmed that Daniel Condon, an airline pilot, was previously assigned to the Embassy’s Military Liaison Office, Port of Spain, and that he was employed at the US Embassy from October 2009 to July 16, 2011. On July 14, 2011, Condon was appointed director of the TTAS, a company which its managing director Dirk Barnes incorporated on June 16, 2011, with Kevon Stafford. Both Barnes and Stafford are former soldiers. By December 2011, the TTAS was given the contract by Gibbs. Sources told the Express investigations were being conducted by the US Embassy’s Military Liaison Office into Condon’s alleged business transactions. While employed with the Embassy, Condon was paid by Deputy Commissioner of Police Jack Ewatski on two occasions—June 12, 2012, and July 3, 2010—to go flying with him. Condon resigned from the Embassy on July 16, 2011.


Newsline: US Embassy seeks fugitive in Trinidad

United States law enforcement is on the hunt for a violent fugitive believed to be hiding in Trinidad and Tobago. The man who has been identified by the US Embassy in Port of Spain as Sean Lopes, 46, is believed to be hiding in this country, the Embassy said in a press statement which showed three photographs of Lopes, who is described as a violent fugitive. Lopes was sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of kidnapping and attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend who is the niece of a US Federal Judge. In 2008, Interpol in Guyana issued a wanted bulletin for Lopes who is said to have Guyanese and Dutch nationality for alleged kidnapping and other crimes involving the use of weapons and explosives. In 2006, Lopes, including eight other men and one woman were labelled by the New York Police Department as the city’s most wanted fugitives. A reward is being offered for information leading to Lopes’ capture, the US Embassy said.


Newsline: Security Breach Probed at State Dept.

A long-time State Department official with top security clearance is under investigation by his own agency for allegedly possessing and illegally transporting classified information, including “extremely sensitive” documents related to national security, according to court documents. Reginald Hopson, a 30-year veteran of the State Department, had been stationed overseas for the past 12 years, but he is now working in Washington, with his clearance suspended, as the investigation continues. Most recently, Hopson was “Information Management Officer” at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, where he was in charge of securing and managing classified information, particularly electronic information. Until August 2009, he was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Trinidad and Tobago. Before Hopson left for his post in South Africa, State Department investigators working on an unrelated case in Trinidad and Tobago discovered that he had brought sensitive documents to unauthorized locations.


Newsline: US Embassy: Query visa refusals via e-mail

People who want to query the reason why they were refused a visa to go to the United States should contact the Consular Section of the US Embassy in Port of Spain. This was the advice after a new wave of complaints by locals came in response to a report done by the US State Department on the operations at the local embassy. The report found that non-immigrant visa workers at the embassy were being trained, up to February this year, to refuse visas to certain groups of applicants. Among those who were being refused-pregnant women, women who already had a child in the US, and locals working with multi-national corporations and going to America for job training. The non-immigrant section (NIV) stated ’Please direct all persons with questions to enquire by sending an e-mail to ConsularPOS@state.gov.’