Caribbean Updates 05/14/2022

Caricom pushes for inclusive Summit of the Americas

Caribbean countries form part of a growing group of countries annoyed at the U.S. organization of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to be held in Los Angeles in June. Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders have discussed a collective boycott of the summit if nations are excluded and criticized the U.S. plan to invite Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Caricom leaders cited “disrespect [of] the Democratic Charter” by part of the US after not inviting Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua to the meetings. (Associated PressAssociated PressUltimas Noticias)

Cuba, particularly, is a flashpoint for governments nettled by U.S. gatekeeping: “CARICOM countries take the view that the Summit of the Americas is not a United States summit, which it isn’t. It is a summit of all the countries of the Americas, of which the United States is only one,” Ambassador Ronald Sanders of Antigua and Barbuda told the Washington Post. “Does hosting the summit give you the right to decide who should or should not be representing countries of the Americas? … Many have come to the conclusion that … everybody should be there. That must include Cuba.”

Some countries in the region that condemn nondemocratic regimes in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba still feel the Summit of the Americas invite-list kerfuffle is “yet another reminder of what they see as U.S. hubris when it comes to the hemisphere,” reports the Washington Post.

The growing chorus of discontent in Latin America and the Caribbean over the upcoming Summit of the Americas to be held in the U.S. — the invites still haven’t been sent out — underscores the challenges facing the U.S. Biden administration in advancing its interests in the region, reports the New York Times

 

In an April conference Sanders said that when it comes to how the United States treats its Caribbean neighbors, U.S. President Joe Biden’s policies aren’t that much better than those of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden, he said, “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, “has continued to haunt US‑Caribbean relations, and will be a significant issue as we approach the upcoming Summit of the Americas.” (Antigua Newsroom)

Diplomacy

  • While the U.S. Biden administration recently announced that it is resuming “limited” consular functions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, it still appears unlikely to restart the normalization process with Cuba. The Biden administration has placed electoral politics ahead of U.S. interests and appears unlikely to do more, write Fulton Armstrong and Philip Brenner at the AULA blog.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he prevented “dangerous things” from happening during the time President Donald Trump was in office, including military intervention in Venezuela and a blockade of Cuba. “At various times, certainly during the last year of the administration, folks in the White House were proposing to take military action against Venezuela,” Esper said in an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes. At some point, he said, “somebody proposed we blockade Cuba.” (Miami Herald)

Climate Justice and Energy

  • Global Americans has launched a research project to assess the political, economic, and social consequences of climate change in the Caribbean.
  • Guyanese environmentalists say ExxonMobil  indifferent to the dangers of an oil spill off the country’s coast, while Guyanese politicians have accused Exxon of fleecing the country of billions of dollars by bouncing an ill-experienced government into a contract that pays far less than other countries earn from their oil, reports the Guardian.
  • A new study published in Science estimates the costs of possible legal claims from oil and gas investors in response to government actions to limit fossil fuels, such as canceling pipelines and denying drilling permits. The study’s findings show ISDS claims could reach $340 billion, a substantial amount that would divert critical public finance from essential mitigation and adaptation efforts to the pockets of fossil fuel industry investors.
  • Adjuntas, a community of about 18,000 in central Puerto Rico’s densely forested mountains, has become a showcase for how solar power could address one of the island’s most vexing problems — an energy grid that has struggled to recover after Hurricane María practically wiped it out in 2017, reports the New York Times.
  • Vanuatu’s push for the international court of justice to protect vulnerable nations from climate change has received the backing of 1,500 civil society organisations from more than 130 countries, as it heads toward a crucial vote at the UN General Assembly later this year, reports the Guardian.

Public Security

·  Haitian gang members raped women and girls and burned people alive during turf wars over the past coupe of weeks near Port-au-Prince, the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network said in a report detailing the bloody conflict between the rival Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo gangs. The battles left 148 people dead, some of whom were hacked to death with machetes or died when their homes were set on fire. (Reuters)

Food Security

·  Several Caribbean leaders — includingBarbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley andGuyanese Prime Minister Irfaan Ali — have referenced the urgent need to reduce the regional Food Import Bill. (Carib Direct)

·  “Rather than launching large-scale but short-term projects where international intermediaries absorb a major portion of the funds, the Haitian rural world needs small-scale investments that are sustained over a long time span with encouragement for local markets, school canteens and small-scale tourism outfits,” argues Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis in Americas Quarterly.

·  Cassava could be part of the solution to the grain supply challenges aggravated by the Ukraine war, argues Chiedozie Egesi in the Guardian.

·  Melissa Fuster’s Caribeños at the Table, demonstrates that a global shift towards Americanized food has shaped the food practices of Caribeños, not just upon migration, but also before they arrive. Fuster disrupts the discourse of migrants’ “universal longing for traditional foods” by arguing that dietary practices are significantly influenced not just by culture; but more importantly, by intersectional structural factors such as class, race, and gender, both in their homeland and their new home. (Nacla)

Decolonization and Racial Justice

  • Following the arrest of British Virgin Islands’ Premier Andrew Fahie on drug charges, the UK, which already controls the islands’ defense and foreign policies, is considering taking over the country’s domestic policy and budgets as well, reports The Guardian.
  • CARICOM, and the University of the West Indies have called on Britain to retreat from stated political calls to subvert and subordinate the sovereignty of the people of the Virgin Islands.

Drug Rights

·  St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ first cannabis consumption lounge opened last week — people can obtain permits to buy cannabis products for a year after an onsite consultation with a physician. (Nation News)

Culture

·  Anguilla’s education officials updated the country’s school code to permit students to wear natural protective hairstyles like dreadlocks, braids and cornrows, reports Loop News. Education Minister Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers said the change aims to move past “engrained colonial perspectives,” part of a broader Caribbean debate. 

·  “Splintered,” written and directed by Emily Aboud, is a primer on the life of queer women in the Caribbean, reports the Guardian — complete with the hypothesis that the homophobia embedded in their culture is founded in the legacy of colonialism.

Events

·  21 May — CEDAW Speaker Series: Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia — Equality Bahamas. Register.

· 25 May — “Centering Justice in Global Climate Finance Governance on the Road to COP27” — Climate Justice – Just Transition Donor Collaborative. Register.

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