Last week, Young told a virtual media briefing that while Trinidad and Tobago had closed its borders as one of its measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, citizens overseas and other non-nationals were using a particular Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation as “a jumping point” to get into the country. He did not name the country but said that Rowley had instructed Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister Dennis Moses to write to that country’s government.
Young had also urged the unnamed country not to allow its “good offices to be used by those who wish to compromise our current border measures”.
But the Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said “Minister Young inferred that the Government of Barbados was one of such countries,” adding “the reality is that, in the absence of a representative of Trinidad based in Barbados, the Government of Barbados did no more nor less than simply convey to Port-of-Spain requests for assistance made by citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who were stranded in Barbados.
“In this regard, Barbados acted on the basis of a sincere regard for the welfare of the nationals of a sister CARICOM country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados is therefore deeply disturbed that this action has been framed as a national security matter,” it said.
Young suggested that the Mia Mottley administration failed to respect the twin-island republic’s border policies in its handling of the situation involving 33 Trinidadians who were stranded in that country for a month.
The Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ministry described Young’s comments as “regrettable”, as it stressed that Barbados had gone through all the appropriate channels to get the group home. They returned to Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday after testing negative for COVID-19.
But on Monday Young said, “We have absolutely no issues with Barbados. I certainly have no issues with anyone in Barbados – in particular at the government level.” He said he has never spoken with its trade minister on the issue but has been in contact with the Barbados Prime Minister and attorneys.
“I didn’t call the name of any such country,” he repeated on Monday, but certainly I can put on record here: I have absolutely no issues with Barbados, including the minister of foreign affairs, who I have met and worked with at conferences prior to this.”
Speaking at news conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told reporters he knew nothing of a rift involving Barbados and his National Security Minister.
“Let me start with that. The relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados is as good as it has even been and Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados remain very close brothers and sisters.
“If there is a difference of opinion on a matter that is not a fallout,” Rowley said, adding “I know where that stoking is coming from,” without elaborating.
Rowley told reporters that as are as we are concerned we have no problem with Barbados.
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