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Editorial: Restoring US influence in the Caribbean
Published on June 9, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

As reported in a recent Caribbean News Now article, the “US promises expanded cooperation with the Caribbean”; however, it is axiomatic that strategy gives direction, but actions get the job done.

“In proclaiming June 2014 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, US President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States is expanding cooperation with the region to promote social justice, grow prosperity throughout the Americas, and create new educational opportunities for young people across the Caribbean basin.”

“As America celebrates our Caribbean heritage, let us hold fast to the spirit that makes our country a beacon to the world. This month, let us remember that we are always at our best when we focus not on what we can tear down, but on what we can build up. And together, let us strengthen the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth,” the proclamation read.

A comment to the article by Yvonne Joseph reads, “Very good venture towards the Caribbean, Mr President. This move will help to keep all the bad people that are coming to our islands in recent times to think twice before they come running. We need the presence of America in our region now more than ever.”

Certainly, this is a timely proposition that requires immediate implementation in order to address the serious security threats, along with foreign policy and economic dimensions that citizenship by investment programmes especially pose to the region.

These programmes have attracted many new faces with questionable intentions and the probability of a new axis of evil following terrorists, the drug trade, human trafficking, money laundering and support of corrupt governments in the Caribbean. Without going into too much detail, all of these elements have already infiltrated the region covertly and not so covertly.

These characters pose as investors, developers and friends of politicians, as Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and very soon Saint Lucia jump on the bandwagon in granting citizenships indiscriminately to radical foreign operatives, who have already begun using the islands as a front to prostitute their citizens and resources and to facilitate international crimes and sanctions evasion.

The new faces of evil use these programmes as an avenue to escape sanctions and scrutiny, while the countries that offer them expect to continue with impunity to have access to financial and other aid funded by US taxpayers.

These new economic citizens move freely within the region and in foreign countries as Caribbean nationals, with all the rights and freedoms associated with these passports, including even diplomatic passports. They may also have the right to vote in elections taking place in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis in the coming days and months.

It is evident that America has dropped the ball in the Caribbean region, and that has created a vacuum, which the Russians, Chinese, ALBA and the Iranians are quickly filling, with the promise of cash in economic aid, trade and investments, the construction of an airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the possibility of another in Dominica, building hospitals, the extraction of minerals in Jamaica and the exploration of the Caribbean Sea, to freeport development up and down the region.

Recently these citizenship programmes have come under increasing scrutiny in Washington as a result of recent revelations of US/UN sanctions evasion by some of these economic citizens and their companies. Caribbean governments, of course, pretend to be completely innocent in their desperation for this foreign money.

Stability within the wider Caribbean is important to safeguard Caribbean-American heritage and interests. Likewise, it is no secret that America must reboot its policy to counter these developments that it has allowed to take root in what is frequently described as its backyard or third border.

In the meantime, regional governments are busy placating the Russians while sucking up to the Chinese and idolizing Venezuela for oil money.

The current crop of Caribbean leaders appear to be trapped looking for economic programs, trade, industry and commerce; training programs, technical support, intelligence gathering, security, technology and climate change mitigation to guard against external shocks and to finance their various budgets. All of which America can absorb in a foreign policy layout of US$5 billion and a short distance to any of the islands in the Caribbean region.

President Obama outlined his vision for America’s role in the world in his recent commencement address at West Point: “Not necessarily by major deployment of America’s forces, but rather through targeted, operations, diplomacy and aid.”

The celebration of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month and the president’s vision for America’s role in the world is an opportune “time to renew our friendship with our Caribbean neighbors, with whom we share both an ocean and a history. To this end, the United States is expanding cooperation with our Caribbean partners as we promote social justice, grow prosperity throughout the Americas.”

America retains a certain level of legitimacy in the Caribbean region, where accountability, the practice of transparency and trust of partners can work together to rebalance what is fragmenting the region today. But what is missing so far is an operational plan to put resources on location where change can take place.
 
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Comments:

Mary Ann Moxon:

Indeed, the US has left a very visible void in the Caribbean that has been filled by China more than any other country. It is also unsettling that some Caribbean nations have official ties to Taiwan, others to communist China. Roads, bridges, schools and healthcare facilities are vital, but accepting them from all countries who offer them sets the stage for diplomatic problems down the road. CARICOM nations need to balance their needs with future repercussions.


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