by Wesley Kirton
SOUTH FLORIDA – I must salute the Governments of the seven CARICOM countries- Guyana, Suriname, Belize, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica -for their vote on Thursday in the United Nations on the issue of Jerusalem.
I must however express my disappointment that the 14-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) did not vote in unison in favor of this UN resolution. Seven members abstained or did not vote.
Prior to the vote both US President Trump and UN Ambassador Halley issued warnings that America would take note of the names that voted for the resolution and that aid to those countries would be negatively affected in the future.
So, was this threat the reason why seven CARICOM member states abstained or did not vote at all?
Was it CARICOM’s strategy to have half the member states support the resolution, thereby making it difficult for the Trump administration to “punish” the region as a whole, should it choose to carry out its threat?
In my view this split vote provides for the current US administration to “pick off” CARICOM member states individually, thereby making it hard for us in the diaspora to lobby as a collective Caribbean against any possible “punishment” against the seven countries that supported the resolution.
As much as I am disappointed in the way some CARICOM member states voted on this issue I still maintain an abiding faith in the regional integration process. I suppose our unity in CARICOM does not preclude a plurality of positions on key issues, it pre-supposes it.
Jean Kirkpatrick, many years ago while serving as the US ambassador to the UN in the Reagan administration had suggested that US aid to developing countries should be in keeping with their percentage of votes consistent with the US vote in the UN system.
Her suggestion was inconsistent with the shared values which form the foundation of the relationship between the member states of CARICOM and the US, and so too does the threat from the Trump administration.
I hope that should the US administration attempt to “punish” these seven Caribbean nations in any way because of their principled position as represented through last Thursday’s vote, the the diasporas of these seven countries in the US will mount a vigorous lobby to avoid any “punishment” that might be contemplated. I am committed to being part of that lobby, should it become necessary.