Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, has called for an early meeting between US President Joe Biden and Caricom leaders.
Ambassador Sanders made the call during a webinar yesterday organised by Florida International University and the Latin American and Caribbean Center in Washington.
Sir Ronald pointed out that it has been seven years since the last US-Caricom summit was held in Jamaica.
He said the US has still not formulated an effective Caribbean policy during that time. 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 focused on continuing policies of isolating Cuba and trying to dissuade Caricom countries from relationships with 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 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”.
Panellists included former top US State 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 refocusing 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.