US penalises citizens of three Eastern Caribbean countries

11
The US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados

By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate editor
melanius@caribbeannewsnow.com

CASTRIES, St Lucia — The recent refusal by the US government to extend the convenience of an interview waiver for visa renewals to three Eastern Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines, is widely perceived as retribution for the representatives of those countries declining to support a failed US-sponsored, anti-Venezuela resolution at the Organisation of American States (OAS) earlier this year.

This perception has been reinforced by the recent publication of an op-ed by Linda Taglialatela, the US ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, which singled out Saint Lucia (which supported the US-led resolution) for effusive praise and consideration, notwithstanding that Saint Lucia is one of just ten countries worldwide subjected to US sanctions under the so-called Leahy Law.

According to one of our readers, the reason for the op-ed is simple: “St Lucia backed the resolution by the OAS against Venezuela. The three countries that defied the US are Dominica, Antigua and St Vincent. St Vincent is already being punished with this Peace Corps disinformation and attempts are being made to punish Antigua and Dominica similarly. So Saint Lucia must be rewarded for its good behaviour and in so doing communicate a lesson to the errant children of what happens to the good children versus the bad ones. Notice none of the three got visa waivers?”

We asked the State Department and the Bridgetown embassy if there is any truth in this assertion and, if not, will similarly glowing op-eds be published about the other OECS countries and Barbados?

We also requested their reaction/comments on why the State Department thinks it is appropriate to praise so effusively the only country in the Caribbean (and one of only ten worldwide) subjected to US sanctions imposed under the “Leahy Law” as a result of unresolved extra-judicial killings by the security forces in Saint Lucia during a security operation that was at the time endorsed by the current prime minister.

No response has been received from either.

So far, the US embassy has announced the implementation of the interview visa waivers for qualified applicants in Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada, who are wishing to renew their US visas. The process can now be done online and passports sent to Barbados via courier service.

Passport holders may qualify for a visa renewal interview waiver if their previous visa expired within the past 12 months and they are applying for the same visa category as their previous visa, according to information posted on the embassy’s website.

The applicant must be physically present in their respective countries or within the consular district of the US embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, to take advantage of the option.

Additionally, the previous US visa must be in the applicant’s possession, and the applicant must have submitted a ten-fingerprint scan in conjunction with the previous visa application.

Students who wish to renew their visas, and who satisfy the requirements, may also qualify for interview waiver if they are applying to continue attendance at the same institution, or will continue the same major course of study at a different institution.

The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne questioned why three member states of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean (OECS) were not included in the list of countries that are to benefit from the US interview waiver programme for people renewing their visas.

Browne said he finds it strange that the new measure does not include all OECS member-states.

“We have an economic union comprising of six independent countries and you have offered it to three of those countries and you have left out three. You have left out Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Browne said on local radio over the weekend.

“That’s their policy and I am not saying this out of any acrimony, but I want to know how does that type of behaviour help to foster stronger relations between the US?” he asked.

Dominican attorney Anthony Astaphan SC also spoke on the matter, saying that he found it astonishing that a country that the US has sanctioned as a threat to public security is now going to be a beneficiary of what he described as “benevolent principle”, while countries that have never been sanctioned are being left out.

“I think it is punitive… because they [the three OECS states] did not follow the ‘instructions’ of the United States,” Astaphan said.

print

11 COMMENTS

  1. Let us remember the facts of the early June OAS vote on suspending Venezula.

    The General Assembly of the OAS approved a resolution on June 5 to suspend Venezuelan from the organization.

    But while the body approved a motion to include the suspension of Venezuela in its agenda, the resolution still needed approval from the foreign ministers of at least 24 of the 35 member States.

    The resolution was proposed by the U.S. and backed by the 14 countries that make up the so-called Lima Group: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia.

    The Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados also voted in favor of the resolution.

    The 11 countries that abstained were Surinam, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Uruguay, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti and Nicaragua.

    Meanwhile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines [SVG] voted against.

    So SVG stands out as one of two Caribbean countries to vote against punishing an evil and incompetent regime in Venezuala lead by an ex-bus driver but is lumped togther with countries that merely abstained.

    The math in this article simply doesn’t add up.

  2. Let it be known that the vast majority of Vincentians DO NOT support our Prime Minister on his Stand on Venezuela or Nicaragua!!

    • Senator Bacchus Baptiste, YOU nor your opposition NDP party CANNOT speak for “the vast majority of Vincentians”. Your statement is definitely out of place, and so are you. NDP is NOT the government, and Godwin Friday is NOT the Prime Minister.

      Moreover, are you now admitting (after all…) that Ralph Gonsalves is “our” [YOUR] Prime Minister?

    • The vast majority of Vincentians could never locate these two countries on a map. Still we are outliers in support of these two nasty regimes.

      • Spoken like a true agent of imperialism and member of the petit bourgeois class who worship and depends on the imperialists for life sustenance, afraid of socio economic and political independence combined with revolutionary struggles against capitalist oppression.

  3. The hypocrisy of the US is stunning. Look at its history on Nicaragua and Venezuela and it is truly sickening. It supports right wing thuggish regimes and destabilizes any government that tries to bring about the most modest reforms aimed at creating sustainable societies – as it is doing now with Venezuela. The fact that some Caribbean people are dumb enough to fall for the US’ pretense of caring about ‘democracy’ speaks volumes for the power of colonial brainwashing.

  4. US did what! Really!!?? So What!
    “A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship”. (John D. Rockefeller.)

  5. By his actions, especially since our last General election here in our small country, Ralph Gonsalves has proved himself to be nothing but a very dishonourable man. Just how on earth any self-respecting individual, calling themselves a democrat, could conduct themselves in such a disgraceful and damnable detestable manner, a manner that is so shockingly dishonourable to the very idea of democracy, is quite reprehensible to say the least.

    What is the evidence for such a charge? Well here it is. If we were to take the old definition of democracy, one which goes something like this, as Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865) once put it. It is Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

    As such, one’s integrity in representative leadership and moral rectitude, should be a prerequisite and beyond question, unless that is, one wishes to be seen as a scoundrel and a rogue. Being a rogue and a scoundrel should thus disqualify that individual from representing people of good morals.

    We have had a general election here since the 9th of December 2015. One where the stated results was challenged by the main opposition party, yet it is taking a tremendous length of time before this matter could be resolved before a Judge in the courts. Why? Because Ralph Gonsalves have been using all means at his disposal to thwart and frustrate a just outcome.

    It is now going near on THREE YEARS since that General Election and yet we have no end in sight for our democracy to properly work, because of the behaviour of Ralph Gonsalves and his gang. No moral person who truly believe in real democracy could nor would be so immoral and reprehensible.

    The Moral people of SVG would expect courteousness, dignified civility, decency and correctness in behaviour on those who represent them, and not immoral goons who have no liking for democracy.

    So is Ralph Gonsalves the Prime Minister of SVG? That is yet to be proven? In my opinion, his actions after the General Election says that he is not at all the Prime Minister!

    In my sad opinion, he and his goons are merely usurpers of democracy in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The quicker Ralph Gonsalves does what moral men would do the better!

  6. It’s only a matter of time before SVG and in particular, Ralph E Gonsalves and the dynasty members are sanctioned by the US in a number of ways and their travel curbed.

    It’s a shame it has come to this because SVG will be paying for the actions of Gonsalves, much of what he does Vincentians do not agree with, he is totally out of control. So are the police and particularly Gonsalves self-owned and controlled political police officers, the ‘Black Squad’.

    Vinciman as a member of the scum brigade no one cares a damn about the rubbish you write.

  7. Dirty politicians who are not friends of the US deserve little more, despite it hurting the citizens. There are many that support the fat bag of rubbish so let them suffer the consequences.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.