But were they listening?

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We know that many people would have missed the Prime Minister’s address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly because of all that is going on with Barbuda, Dominica and elsewhere, so we wanted to give you some highlights and commentary.
While there will be many critics of some of the language and references used by Prime Minister Browne, we believe that the content was good and the delivery hit the mark. The PM made the point that we were not going to the United Nations with cap in hand but rather we were seeking a way to work for a living. That was an excellent point to make because so many people see us as beggars living in a tropical paradise with no reasons to complain about anything.
The PM craftily utilized the backdrop of the devastating storms that passed through the region to lay out his various cases and we commend him for covering so much ground in the short time allotted. He also pleaded his case on behalf all small developing nations and not just Antigua & Barbuda. The approach certainly demonstrated that it was not a selfish appeal but a much broader one that affects a good many people on this big blue marble that we call planet earth.
Our fear is that there are persons, who yield huge international influence, who will not like some of what the PM had to say. This is not a fault of the PM but, more so, driven by politics and thin-skinned politicians, who come to the United Nations without a world view. For example, we doubt that the United States was appreciative of the references to climate change, the World Trade Organization, or the thank you list acknowledged by the PM who said, “Even as my government and people look forward to the assistance of the better-off nations of the world, I thank those nations and persons who were the first responders, particularly the government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; who went beyond the call of duty to assist.”
Considering that Donald Trump singled out Venezuela in his address and spent as much time criticizing the South American nation as he did North Korea, Syria and Iran, he is not going to be a fan of anyone making them look good. Especially now that President Maduro responded by criticizing the speech as an “aggression from the new Hitler of international politics”. Yikes!
The fact of the matter is, Venezuela was a first responder to our crisis. Their relief effort hit our shores before anything landed from any big, first world nation. And considering Venezuela’s current economic situation, their effort was a huge gesture. As a small island state, that is hard to ignore and it would be irresponsible for us not to thank the people who aid us when given an opportunity to do so. Politics, however, is generally myopic so we are sure that there will be those, who see us as simply cozying up to people they do not like.
Everyone will have a favourite part of the PM’s address but for us, his most impactful argument related to the financial challenges that small island states face. As he juxtaposed climate change, the Barbuda crisis (and others) against the costs to rebuild and live, the PM’s address was at its most riveting level. But let’s reference the PM’s words: “Mr. President, increasingly, states, such as mine, are victims of an international economic and financial system that regards us merely as a numerical statistic or mere nuisance.
“We are measured by the level of our income, even though it is an insufficient and unreasonable criterion for establishing vulnerability, poverty and need.
“Like many other small island states, my developing country is categorized as ‘high-income’, thus denying it access to concessional financing and grant funding from international financial institutions and donor governments.
“It is patently obvious, that the per capita income criterion is a skewed and flawed determinant.
“It should be eliminated and eliminated immediately.”
We have no doubt that the majority will dismiss the PM’s call for a change to global financial policy but we are glad that he touched on the issue. It is an archaic measure that benefits bigger nations to the detriment of those struggling to make ends meet. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that it is a system designed by the developed countries to keep the smaller countries from developing.
Although the PM chose the right place and time to deliver his global perspective on behalf of small, developing states, we doubt that the right people chose to listen and absorb the message. We still do not appear on their radar for the very reasons that the PM highlighted. In the end, might is right and money is power (our words, not the PM’s)!
So, we give Jack his jacket and congratulate the PM on his address to the United Nations. We hope that enough people listened to make a difference.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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