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Trinidad PM has heart problems, seeks treatment for plaque build-up in California

By Rhondor Dowlat

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PM Rowley

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley will leave Monday for the Unit­ed States (US) where he will un­der­go a se­ries of coro­nary tests and ob­ser­va­tion due to a build-up of plaque in one of his arteries. He will be at­tend­ed to at a health in­sti­tu­tion in Cal­i­for­nia.

His med­ical leave of ab­sence will be in­def­i­nite, as it would de­ter­mine whether he would have to un­der­go any im­me­di­ate pro­ce­dures to treat and deal with the is­sue.

This was dis­closed by Row­ley dur­ing a me­dia con­fer­ence at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre in St Ann’s. Some of his cab­i­net mem­bers present in­clud­ed Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi and Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young.

Row­ley said that in 2016, amidst sev­er­al tests for prostate can­cer, he sub­ject­ed him­self to a coro­nary test that re­vealed a “soft plaque” in one of the ar­ter­ies.

“It was avail­able. It turned out then that they did see a small…some soft plaque de­vel­op­ing in one artery and they didn’t think that it re­quired any un­usu­al re­sponse oth­er than to ob­serve it,” Row­ley said.

Row­ley, 69, in­di­cat­ed that a sec­ond test done in 2017 re­vealed that it ap­peared much big­ger. He said when he was ini­tial­ly test­ed he changed his di­et and lifestyle a bit. How­ev­er, the is­sue pro­gressed and it is at a stage now where it needs fur­ther med­ical at­ten­tion.

Ad­mit­ting that he was very delin­quent in treat­ing with the coro­nary is­sue for over a year, the PM said he has now de­cid­ed to place it on his pri­or­i­ty list.

“I would leave and join my doc­tors and fam­i­ly in Cal­i­for­nia and I’ll go through what­ev­er process­es and pro­ce­dures are re­quired,” Row­ley said.

Giv­ing rea­son for the de­lay in fur­ther­ing med­ical checks, Row­ley ex­plained that he had oth­er pri­or­i­ties, such as a Cari­com meet­ing with the Unit­ed Na­tions over the on­go­ing and deep­en­ing Venezue­lan cri­sis.

On Feb­ru­ary 18 Row­ley said he went to his lo­cal doc­tor and dur­ing an ex­am­i­na­tion was told he had to im­me­di­ate­ly treat with the heart is­sue.

But he said he again pushed it back be­cause he had to at­tend Cari­com’s 30th In­ter-ses­sion­al Meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence of Heads of Gov­ern­ment lat­er that same month (Feb­ru­ary).

He said there would have been a fur­ther de­lay fol­low­ing a re­quest to at­tend a meet­ing with the US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo at the White­house in Wash­ing­ton, DC, which was card­ed for to­mor­row, how­ev­er, it was sub­se­quent­ly can­celled for rea­sons which Row­ley chose not to dis­close.

Row­ley and the Cari­com del­e­ga­tion head­ed by St Kitts’ Prime Min­is­ter Dr Tim­o­thy Har­ris had been in­vit­ed to a meet­ing on Ash Wednes­day. How­ev­er, the prime min­is­ter said that on Fri­day night he re­ceived a mes­sage about the can­cel­la­tion of the meet­ing.

When asked if he the can­cel­la­tion stemmed from state­ments he made dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing on Thurs­day when he main­tained Cari­com’s stance, Row­ley replied:

“I have been mak­ing com­ments about Venezuela for the longest while…I speak glob­al­ly ever since we have been deal­ing with Venezue­lans in T&T be­com­ing a prob­lem,” Row­ley said.

“We have been care­ful not to do is to in­ter­vene in their pol­i­tics so that there is noth­ing that I said that at that press con­fer­ence or that Cari­com would have said which would have dra­mat­i­cal­ly change any­thing. What we did do is to re­serve our right to speak as in­de­pen­dent na­tions re­spect­ful­ly and fac­tu­al­ly and we do know that our points of view dif­fer from oth­er peo­ple but that is not a crime, it is a point of view that is dif­fer­ent…we start­ed out with that,” he added.

On Thurs­day Row­ley said Cari­com na­tions are main­tain­ing their stance of non-in­ter­fer­ence in the Venezue­lan cri­sis.

Row­ley sum­marised the cri­sis in Venezuela, in­clud­ing the sanc­tions im­posed by the Unit­ed States and said the po­si­tion of the US was “bel­liger­ent”.

Pom­peo and US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, have been some of the strongest voic­es ad­vo­cat­ing for a change in the Gov­ern­ment of Venezuela. The US has even en­dorsed in­cum­bent Nico­las Maduro’s chal­lenger, Juan Guai­do, as the right­ful pres­i­dent of the coun­try in the in­ter­im, un­til fresh elec­tions are called.

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