Express Editorial : Daily

The position led by Caricom chairperson Mia Mottley and publicly endorsed by the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda on this week’s meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is well-grounded and informed by respect for the integrity of Caricom.

Far from the view espoused by Opposition MP Rodney Charles, we do not see the government’s position as any indication of this country’s diplomatic isolation or surrendering of regional leadership. It is a powerful statement of unity against the divisiveness and fragmentation that has for too long been weakening the integration movement.

As we understand it, Mr Pompeo came to the Caribbean to drum up support for the US position on Venezuela and, perhaps more importantly, to canvass support for the re-election of Uruguay’s Luis Almagro as Secretary General of the Organisation of American States. There is no question that Mr Almagro has been compliant with the US hemispheric agenda and therefore has the full backing of the US government. However, among the candidates whom he will be up against in the March 20 election is former Ecuadorian foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa who has reportedly been nominated by several Caricom members, including Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Ideological battle-lines are already sharply drawn with Ecuador’s new right-wing government supporting Mr Almagro.

Whether or not this is Mr Pompeo’s main agenda item, PM Mottley is absolutely correct to resist the cherry-picking that undermines the regional bloc. We encourage other leaders to stand resolute with her on this and every other issue that promotes regional fragmentation.

If Caricom is today a shadow of what it was designed to be it is because too many leaders have been too anxious to sit at the table of the world’s superpowers. Whether in the chair or not, Ms Mottley has brought a spirited leadership that has long been lacking in Caricom. It is not an easy path to tread given the rewards for breaking ranks but the long-term interest of the Caribbean will only be served by an impregnable unity which has so far eluded the regional bloc.

While some foreign ministers of eastern Caribbean countries made the trip to Jamaica for yesterday’s meeting with Mr Pompeo, PM Mottley’s clear statement, bolstered by the support of T&T and other Caricom states, should serve as a signal to them about the need to deal with extra-regional governments from a position of consensus.

However, it should be added that while the danger of individual Caricom states entering bilateral relationships with the US has been well-ventilated for decades, almost no attention has been paid to the commitments being sewn up across the region by China which has been spectacularly successful in its one-on-one negotiations with member states; so successful, in fact, that countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, have been willing to undermine their own laws, including labour laws, to facilitate the government of China.

The time is ripe for Caricom to get serious about a foreign policy approach that strengthens the region’s hands. To fail is to condemn the region to a future in which individual states are mere pawns of others.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

ONE would have hoped that Justice Vasheist Kokaram’s quite thoughtful judgment would have encouraged the Prime Minister to abandon his politically aggressive attitude and apply some statesmanship in dealing with the Law Association’s case for impeaching the Chief Justice.

THE late De Fosto opened his 1993 Carnival song “Is My Turn” with the words: “For too long I have been knocking on the door. Now I fed up, I don’t intend to knock no more. This time I going to break it down.”

THIS is a game which Caribbean children played and perhaps still do.

When the call comes to “show me your motion” we used to do whatever came to mind, a dance, jump up and down and so on. I do not know when it became fashionable for it to be sung at weddings but apparently there is a tradition, in some circles, of the bride being surrounded by her girlfriends who grab an edge of her gown while she shows her motion.

I WAS pleasantly surprised by the quality of many calypsoes I heard during the first half of the Calypso Monarch finals last Thursday night.

My self-regulated sleeping hours did not permit me to take in the second half, which I’m sure was better.

LED by our capital city, it has been fete after fete in the orgy of meaningless merry-making that now typifies the Carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We have over 200 fetes this carnival,” boasts the Culture Minister.

We in Trinidad and Tobago can now place firmly behind our backs the shame, humiliation and utter embarrassment we all suffered as a Caricom member at the hands of Kamla Persad-Bisses­sar, on two separate occasions in 2010, when she was prime minister of this country.