Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, has called for an early meeting between US President, Joe Biden and leaders of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Ambassador Sanders made the call during a webinar meeting on Thursday, April 28th, organised by Florida International University and the Latin American and Caribbean Centre in Washington.
Sir Ronald pointed out that it has been seven years since the last US-CARICOM Summit was held in Jamaica. He said during that time, the US has not formulated an effective Caribbean policy. He described the US policy during the Trump presidency as one of “divide and rule” particularly with regard to Cuba and Venezuela.
Ambassador Sanders also lamented that since President Biden has come to office, no high-level consultation has been held on a US policy for the Caribbean. He said that instead the US has focussed on continuing policies of isolating Cuba and trying to dissuade CARICOM countries from relationships with the People’s Republic of China.
He said that focus on these two issues is unhelpful while CARICOM countries are struggling to recover from the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including huge burdens of debt caused by Climate-Change induced natural disasters and paying for enlarged health services to save their peoples’ lives through the spread of the Coronavirus.
Noting that US authorities repeatedly acknowledge the Caribbean as its ‘third border’, he said that “the US ought to be seeking to strengthen its relations with CARICOM countries, including by helping them to address challenges – some of which are directly attributable to the US, such as Climate Change”.
The webinar meeting discussed a paper, produced by Ambassador Sanders on “US-Caribbean Relations in the first year of the Biden Administration”. Two of the panellists were a former top US States Department official, Ambassador Tom Shannon, and Pulitzer prize journalist with the Miami Herald, Jacqueline Charles.
The meeting endorsed Ambassador Sanders’ view that an early meeting between US President Biden and CARICOM leaders is necessary for refocussing the US-Caribbean relationship on mutually beneficial terms.
The entire webinar discussion can be seen on the websites of Florida International University and the Latin American and Caribbean Center.
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