Stating that it is a valid criticism of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that they have more often failed than succeeded in coordinating their foreign policy actions, Antigua and Barbuda’s top diplomat in Washington, Sir Ronald Sanders, says CARICOM is finally finding its “winning voice”.
“This tendency has been displayed in the Organization of American States (OAS) over the last three years, causing celebration among those countries that fear the voting power of the 14 CARICOM states when they act together,” wrote Sir Ronald, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the OAS and the United States, in his online newsletter.
“The belief that CARICOM states are divided has become so entrenched in the minds of other countries that one of their representatives maliciously told many delegations that Jamaica would sabotage a CARICOM resolution when it was presented for a vote at the body’s Permanent Council on December 18,” he added.
“There was no truth whatsoever in the claim about Jamaica,” he added. “The allegation was made to create doubt in the solidarity of CARICOM behind its own resolution. But the entertainment of the rumour by other countries is evidence of the belief that CARICOM is not a collective force.”
Sir Ronald noted that on December 18, however, 13 of the 14 CARICOM countries “spoke with one voice in presenting a resolution on the disturbing human rights situation in Bolivia, particularly violence against, and disregard for, the indigenous people following the installation of a non-elected government on November 12”.
He said Haiti was absent from the meeting.
“Significantly, the CARICOM 13 consulted widely with other OAS member states, seeking broad consensus and accepting amendments to its draft from several countries that proclaim human rights as a major plank of their foreign policies,” the Antigua envoy wrote.
“However, the Brazilian ambassador to the OAS, in a most unfortunate statement during the Permanent Council meeting, accused the 13 Caribbean countries, and the five nations that supported the resolution, of not being ‘genuinely concerned with advancing and protecting the human rights of indigenous peoples in Bolivia’,” he added. “The ambassador went on to boldly state, with not a shred of evidence to support his discourteous remark, that the Caribbean-proposed resolution ‘will only serve to endorse the false arguments of certain malicious Bolivian political actors that there are racist components in the process that culminated in the departure of the previous government.
“What made the ambassador think that he had the right to make such an offensive and false statement is inexplicable,” Sir Ronald continued.
He said research would have shown any who were ignorant of the facts that CARICOM Heads of Government have been in the forefront for reparatory justice not only for African slavery, but also for genocide of the indigenous people and the centuries of discrimination against their survivors.