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 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Ambassador Sanders made the call during a webinar on Thursday, April 28, hosted by Florida International University and the Latin American and Caribbean Center in Washington.
Sir Ronald pointed out that it had been seven years since the last US-CARICOM summit was held in Jamaica. He said that during this period the United States had not formulated an effective West Indian policy. He described US policy during the Trump presidency as a “divide and conquer” policy, particularly with regard to Cuba and Venezuela.
Ambassador Sanders also lamented that since President Biden took office, no high-level consultations have taken place on a US policy for the Caribbean. He said instead, the United States has focused on continuing policies of isolating Cuba and trying to dissuade CARICOM countries from entering into relations with the People’s Republic of China.
He said the focus on these two issues is not helpful as CARICOM countries struggle to recover from the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the enormous burdens debt caused by natural disasters induced by climate change and payment for expanded health. services to save the lives of their populations through the spread of the Coronavirus.
Noting that U.S. authorities repeatedly recognize the Caribbean as its “third frontier,” he said “the United States should seek to strengthen its relationship with CARICOM countries, including helping them address challenges – including some are directly attributable to the United States, such as climate change”.
The webinar meeting discussed a paper written by Ambassador Sanders on “US-Caribbean relations during the first year of the Biden administration.” Two of the panelists were a former senior US State Department official, Ambassador Tom Shannon, and Miami Herald Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqueline Charles.
The meeting endorsed Ambassador Sanders’ view that an early meeting between US President Biden and CARICOM leaders is necessary to refocus the US-Caribbean relationship on mutually beneficial terms.
The entire webinar discussion can be viewed on the websites of Florida International University and the Latin American and Caribbean Center.