The decision by the new US government to only invite the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Antigua to a virtual meeting of 40 world leaders is curious if not an outright snub of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
The meeting, which takes place on April 22 and 23rd, aims to bring together the 17 countries responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions and global GDP and other countries demonstrating strong climate leadership or are most vulnerable to its impact.
While US President Joe Biden is free to invite anyone to any meeting, it does seem at best curious that Rowley was left out, if only because he is the serving head of the regional block, Caricom.
Had this not been the third time that the US has had major meetings with Caricom governments and not invited T&T, one may be prepared to overlook it, but it is increasingly worrying that the US has not yet welcomed Rowley to any meeting with its executive leadership.
T&T has from its inception been a leader and a major player in Caricom. Its standing has waned from time to time depending on its economic fortune and on its political positions.
In the last five years, the T&T government has adopted a position of initially working with the government of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, as it saw this country’s economic and security relationship with Caracas as being important.
As the US became more impatient with Maduro and sanctioned the Bolivarian Republic, T&T found itself in the invidious position of having lost out on an important supply of natural gas to its ailing downstream sector and thousands of migrants coming to the twin-island republic seeking care and economic survival.
The US, under then-President Donald Trump, tried to further isolate the Maduro regime and T&T’s position of non-interference has led to it being seen as non-cooperative by the US.
Perhaps as could be expected, Caricom has not been able to resist the US moves to separate the regional grouping and this came to a head as Jamaica, Haiti and the Bahamas supported a scurrilous attack on this country’s defence of its borders and observation of its laws.
This paper is on record as condemning the unfortunate attack on T&T at the OAS and has in the past pointed out that part of the challenge this country also faces is the lack of diplomatic tact by Prime Minister Rowley. His latest talk about regional begging is just another example of this.
But even so, the Opposition UNC’s position has not helped this country’s cause, as a country divided against itself cannot stand.
Caricom also cannot allow itself to be divided by any power, as the Bajans are famous for saying they are friends of all but satellite of none.
As occurred following the failure of the Federation, we must, as West Indians, be determined to prove that this challenge would not be fatal to the spirit of West Indian unity and regional consciousness.