Columns

Have Jamaica, St Lucia and Guyana become the 'three blind mice' of Caricom?

BY David Comissiong

Monday, February 19, 2018

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The United States Department of State and the US's millionaire secretary of state, Rex Tillerson (former CEO of American multinational oil corporation Exxon Mobil) are celebrating what they pulled off after engineering the so-called “Lima Group of States” (inclusive of the Caricom states of St Lucia and Guyana) into issuing an international declaration that attacks and vilifies the socialist Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as the success of Tillerson's recent diplomatic effort to enlist Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Government of Jamaica in the USA's ongoing crusade against Venezuela.

These recent happenings seem all part and parcel of a well-coordinated strategy on the part of the Donald Trump Administration to cause maximum disruption and subversion in our sister Caribbean country of Venezuela in the lead-up to Venezuela's critical presidential election scheduled for April 22, 2018. And so, one is forced to query why three of our Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states — Jamaica, St Lucia, and Guyana — would remove themselves from our collective regional umbrella and, instead, associate themselves with this “big power” campaign of subversion against a fellow developing country that is trying desperately hard to keep its precious natural resources out of the hands of greedy North American multinational corporations.

The US Department of State website tells us that St Lucia and Guyana are members of something called “The Lima Group of States”. The questions one must therefore ask is:

• Do the citizens of St Lucia and Guyana know anything at all about this “Lima Group of States” that their governments have joined?

• Was any of this discussed with the people of St Lucia and Guyana by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and President David Granger, respectively?

And, regardless of the answers to these questions, there are others must be asked on Jamaica as well:

• Is it the case that St Lucia, Guyana, and Jamaica (under the relatively conservative, right-wing administrations that now govern these countries) have been transformed into myopic puppet states of the US's Donald Trump Administration?

• Have these three once proud pillars of Caribbean nationhood become the “three blind mice” of the Caricom?

Messrs Chastanet, Holness, and Granger are all relative newcomers to Caribbean political leadership, but surely they must be aware that one of the fundamental objectives of our Caricom regional bloc, as enshrined in Article 4 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, is the coordination and the collective articulation of the foreign policy of our 15 Caricom member states, and “the achievement of a greater measure of... effectiveness of member states in dealing with third states, groups of states, and entities of any description”.

It is therefore inexcusable that these three conservative right-wing political leaders have snubbed and disregarded these basic tenets of Caricom and our 40-year commitment to formulating and pursuing a collective foreign policy. For by so doing they have severely tarnished the international image of Caricom and have done serious damage to the morale, stability and effectiveness of our regional organisation.

And what should be particularly distressing for the people of St Lucia, Guyana, and Jamaica is that these three neophyte heads of government are seemingly unaware that each of their nations possess outstanding records as architects and champions of the Caricom determination to formulate and articulate a collective foreign policy, and to adopt a unified Caricom position in our dealings with the 'great' powers of this world.

Who can forget the historic and critical role played by Guyana's Forbes Burnham in crafting the Treaty of Chaguaramas and its commitment to a collective foreign policy?

Likewise, who can forget Jamaica's Michael Manley's collaboration with the said Forbes Burnham in insisting that Caricom formulate and deploy a common foreign policy in relation to such critical issues as support for the anti-apartheid/anti-imperialist movements of Southern Africa; the Caribbean's engagement in negotiations at Lome for a new relationship with the then European Economic Community; and advocacy for the establishment of a New International Economic Order?

And who could fail to acknowledge that it was in the island of St Lucia, in July 1974, that the heads of Government of the newly established Caricom first enunciated the principle that our nations would embark on such wider hemispheric matters as crafting relationships with the Central American Common Market, the Andean Common Market, and the nation of Mexico, not as individual states, but on a collective, region-wide Caricom basis?

In light of the foregoing, all right-thinking citizens of the Caricom should rebuke these three errant heads of government and deprecate the folly that they have engaged themselves in.

Our Caribbean has a proud tradition of standing up and courageously speaking truth to power. It was, after all, four small Caribbean states that in 1972 defied the mighty United States of America and broke the diplomatic isolation of the nation of Cuba. We took a stance based on principle, and the rest of the hemisphere followed us.

That is the type of community the region — and the organisation Caricom — must remain committed to being!

We must, therefore, not permit our unity as a regional community to be fractured, nor must we allow ourselves to be led down a path of unprincipled, self-seeking, and undignified behaviour by any number that have become of 'blind mice'.

clementpaynechambers@gmail.com

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