By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. May 10, 2022: A top Caribbean ambassador in D.C. is blasting the US’ policies towards the Caribbean ahead of the long-awaited summit in Los Angeles.
Sir Ronald Sanders, ambassador of Antigua & Barbuda to both the United States and the Organization of American States, according to the Washington Diplomat said that when it comes to how the United States treats its Caribbean neighbors, President Joe Biden’s policies aren’t that much better than those of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Sanders, in an April 28 webinar co-sponsored by the Caribbean Policy Consortium and Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, said that Biden is well-meaning but generally ineffective when it comes to the Caribbean.
“He emphasized multilateralism, restoring some confidence in the international system, which Caribbean countries regard as their safeguard against aggression and a platform by which they could raise their voices and be heard,” said Sanders. “But his administration has failed to elaborate and roll out this specific Caribbean policy. He has certainly not attempted to consult with the Caribbean leadership on what such a policy should look like.”
Even worse, said Sanders, Biden has abandoned his own promise to improve US relations with Cuba. Instead, he charged, “Biden has continued the Trump policy of treating Cuba as a terroristic state, ramping up hostile positions against the Cuban government, including implicating CARICOM in human trafficking if they accept medical brigades from Cuba.”
President Biden, said Sanders, “inherited Trump’s virulent anti‑Cuba posture, and an equally hostile attitude to Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela.”
The decision to recognize Juan Guaidó, then-president of the National Assembly – rather than Maduro – as Venezuela’s head of state, said Sanders and this he said “has continued to haunt US‑Caribbean relations, and will be a significant issue as we approach the upcoming Summit of the Americas.”
According to Sanders, “Trump’s interest in the rest of the Caribbean nations was only to secure their support for his position on Venezuela, which he calculated was important to securing votes in South Florida among exile communities for his second bid for the presidency.”
The only other Caribbean country Trump showed any interest in was Haiti, said Sanders, “which he reportedly described along with African nations as a shithole country. His officials subsequently denied that report, but the damage had been done. This attitude effectively summed up his administration’s perceptions of the Caribbean.”“All of this had unintended, but not surprising consequences, of pushing those Caribbean countries with diplomatic relations closer to China,” which contributed generously to financing for both adaptation to climate change and to WHO program to help developing countries cope with the pandemic, the ambassador added.
Sanders has represented Antigua & Barbuda as ambassador to the US since 2015. A seasoned diplomat, businessman and academic, Sanders served for separate periods in 2016 and 2021 as president of the Permanent Council of the OAS. He also chaired the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) against drug trafficking and money laundering (2003-04) and served on the executive board of UNESCO (1985-87).
Sanders was twice Antigua’s high commissioner to the UK. In 2004, he earned the distinction of being the only representative of a small state to lead an arbitration case at the WTO and win. He’s also negotiated tax and investment agreements with the US, Britain, Australia and China.
The CPC-FIU panel was moderated by Georges A. Fauriol, a senior associate at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, also included Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon Jr., senior international policy advisor at Arnold & Porter; Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald; and Samantha S.S. Chaitram, research manager of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
The 9th Summit of the Americas is scheduled for June 6-10 in Los Angeles. The gathering, coming 28 years after the first such summit in Miami, initiated by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994, is already rife with controversy.
On April 28th, a senior State Department official made it clear that the Biden administration does not intend to invite the leaders of Bolivia, Nicaragua or Venezuela to the gathering. That has led to warnings that the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will simply boycott the event.