Be wary of those visiting with gifts ...or seeking to divide

Be wary of those visiting with gifts ...or seeking to divide


Monday, January 27, 2020

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In a little over a 20-month period our country Jamaica has played host to two successive US secretaries of state, namely former head of multinational Exxon oil company Rex Tillerson and just last week rolled out the red carpet for his successor and former head of the US's Central Intelligence Agency Michael Pompeo. The rolling out of the proverbial red carpet to Pompeo was in sad and stark contrast to the treatment that was meted out to Prime Minister Andrew Holness along with four other Caribbean heads of State when they met with Pompeo's boss, Donald Trump, at his house in Mar-a-Lago, and had to “hold a kotch” near the exit door of US president's 'winter White House' in Florida.

Jamaicans are known for their warmth and generosity, but based on what transpired in the aftermath of Tillerson, it's a matter of grave concern to us that we are again being singled out in the attempt to carry out the age-old and diabolic tactic of divide and rule, which is part and parcel of US foreign policy throughout the world.

On the eve of Tillerson's departure from our beloved island in February 2018, the banner headline in the Jamaica Observer screamed 'US Ready to Help — America Government promises to 'free' Jamaica from Venezuelan oil ties', and what was our country's response?

The unilateral seizure of Venezuela's 49 per cent share in Petrojam — which is now a subject of litigation — prior to the Organization of American States (OAS) vote which sought to delegitimise the second term of President Nicolas Maduro. Secondly, we supported the Trojan horse-like humanitarian aid to enter Venezuela, while internationally recognised institutions such as the Red Cross and the United Nations took a firm stance against it. Thirdly, prior to Holness's visit to Mar-a-Lago, a decision was taken to close the Jamaican Embassy in Venezuela for reasons best known to Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith and our prime minister. Fourthly, Jamaica's support for the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido's designated appointee Gustavo Tarre as its permanent representative to the OAS, which severely undermines the credibility of the leadership of the Andrew Holness-led Administration and our country's reputation in the eyes of the world.

The quid pro quo of Jamaica's 'Spanish machete' action against our sister country that stood with us during some of our most difficult times, in favour of the empire, is yet to be seen, and Holness has not yet seen it fit and necessary to reveal the details to an anxious population.

The leadership of eight countries; namely, Jamaica, St Lucia, The Bahamas, Belize, Haiti, Dominican Republic, St Kitts, and St Maarten, whose majority populations and ancestral roots are from a continent and people that are deemed sh**thole countries by Pompeo's boss, are once again being called on to be part of a transactional practice immortalised in the words of Cold War warrior Henry Kissinger. A campaign is now on in earnest for the influential position of OAS secretary general, where their most supine and devout agent Luis Almagro is up against a formidable duo with the kind of backbone and experience that is necessary to bring back some level of credibility to this august institution. The challengers are Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcias, the fourth female to have served as president of the UN General Assembly and Ambassador Hugo de Zela, who once served as chief of staff of the general secretariat of the OAS as part his 42-year stint as a career diplomat.

We must also never lose sight of the role of the OAS and its origins as an instrument of US policy in the region, akin to a diplomatic “battering ram”, operating in ways in which the United Nations, with all its shortcomings, cannot be manipulated. So, it's very important that the countries which constitute Caricom, and numbering 15 votes, be part of any design which 'the empire' has in order to continue to 'run tings' in this 35-country body.

Given the present situation with the leadership of Caricom — Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley at its helm and who reflects the best, unvarnished traditions of the founding fathers of our regional body — everything is exemplified in the words of Errol Barrow, the first Prime Minister of Barbados, that: “We will be friends of all and satellites of none,” it was incumbent that the seeds of division will be sown among the ranks of our sister nations by the empire — either through bribery or bullying or some other nefarious combination.

As well, the OAS represents one of the tools utilised in carrying out regime change, as was the recent case in the military/political coup which removed democratically elected president of the plurinational Bolivia, Evo Morales, for a more pliant agent of US imperialism and the local oligarchy.

Pompeo's recent comments regarding the virtues of Almagro and those related to reviving some kind life in the disastrous campaign of their surrogate and self-proclaimed president of Venezuela Juan Guaido to unseat the democratic and constitutionally elected president of the Bolivarian Republic are clear indicators of the main agenda items for the two-day sojourn in Jamaica, land we love.

I will, however, offer one word of unsolicited advice to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who, unfortunately, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, is cast in the dubious and unenviable role as the leaders of the disrupters of Caricom unity, that we have major issues with our other bedfellows that require urgent attention.

Our region has been cited by none other than the former head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, who on her last visit to Jamaica in November 2018, said “youth unemployment in the Caribbean is the highest in the world, fuelling criminality”, which further negatively impacts our beleaguered economies at a rate of four per cent of gross domestic product per year. If you add a bone-chilling murderous rampage which has seen Jamaica's daily body count being equated to that of a war zone which is a clear and present danger to tourism, our number one foreign exchange earner, the wider Caribbean problem of the devastating impact category 5 hurricanes becoming the norm as a consequence of climate change, and the ever-present energy security issues, this should leave us with little time or no time to “faas inna wi neighbour business”, especially a neighbour such as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Let's not allow the dream of Michael Manley, Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, and Eric Williams — giants of the Caribbean and Caricom — to turn into a nightmare. We must honour their memory, especially as they stood up against the empire 47 years ago in its attempts at isolating our sister country Cuba, in spite of very challenging circumstances in their respective countries of Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad.

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