By Therold Prudent
With The Bahamas recently taking the lead among Caribbean nations by standing tall with the United States on the Ukrainian/Russian crisis, thus affirming its traditional relationship on an issue that is so critical to respecting the territorial integrity of other nations, I also commend the forthright yet non-antagonistic approach that its government is taking to articulate its displeasure with the US over the unfavourable conditions governing The Bahamas’ entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), among other issues.
Therold Prudent is the Political Leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM)
In terms of the conduct of diplomacy with a longtime friend (the US), the Bahamian government has proven that its approach to foreign policy is a pragmatic, level-headed one as opposed to that of our own nation, Saint Lucia, which seems to be engaged in a confused and disjointed foreign policy lately.
I also applaud the recent call by Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie, urging Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to employ the “art of leveraging” in securing greater assistance from the US to combat the scourge of violent crime throughout the region.
However, the decision of the Saint Lucian government to abstain from the critical vote on Crimea, thus acceding to one of the positions the Russian government favoured on the issue, may have further strained our relationship with the US.
The Leahy Law prohibits the US State and Defense Departments from providing any security assistance to nations, in this case Saint Lucia, which it deems responsible for gross violations of human rights.
To date, given our government’s very slow pace in meeting certain key requirements aimed at restoring US security assistance to the island, our nation has had to suffer the further embarrassment of witnessing the prohibition of senior members of our police force from travelling to the United States.
Consequent to that our police force is under tremendous pressure, both in terms of finances to execute operational efficiencies and the lack of local funds to maintain a highly trained force to manage law and order. In the 2014/2015 budget cycle there is more cause for concern, as the government of Saint Lucia has request a budget cut of approximately 5% of annual allotted funds to most departments, including the police force.
On top of that, the IMPACS report has not seen the light of day, a crucial document regarding possible extrajudicial killings and other police operations.
It is a shame that The Bahamas is in a position to approach the US for assistance, while Saint Lucia, a nation that once enjoyed a very warm relationship with the US, does not even have the diplomatic or any other footing to stand on as a basis in negotiating renewed security assistance from the US.