I read with interest and great concern a report in the daily newspapers on Tuesday, under the caption, “T&T backs B’dos, blanks Pompeo’s meeting”. The commentary of the Honourable Rodney Charles, who is widely quoted, lacks substance and is dangerously ill-informed.
The US is our largest trading partner and home to a majority of our nationals in the diaspora. However, such elements of profound ties, even having regard to the tremendous disparity in size and power between the US and T&T, ought not to preclude a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding.
Diplomatic ties which demand that this country responds to a summons, cap-in-hand, as it were, abandoning long-standing underpinnings of our foreign policy—self-determination, sovereignty, non-intervention, non-interference, and regional integration—in a whimsical and opportunistic manner, would be irresponsible, unprofessional, and ultimately inimical to our national interests. If not a transparent attempt to exacerbate division in a body already divided, why was the invitation not extended to all? Maybe the invitation was never intended for Caricom, but to “like-minded Caribbean states”, the DR apparently being on the list.
Such a notion would be entirely appropriate, as the concept of “like-minded” is widely accepted in multilateral diplomacy. Whatever the motivation, its practical effect is certainly not helpful to advocates of our integration movement.
In supporting the position of Barbados not to attend, and in standing with Caricom, as a whole, the Rowley administration demonstrated maturity, wisdom and rectitude, as has been done in the past, from Williams through Chambers, Robinson, Manning, Panday, and, yes, Rodney, Kamla!
We have successfully adhered to our principles on Cuba, on China, on Grenada, on Venezuela, as well as the issue under reference, while being a friendly partner to the US.
Supported by all previous prime ministers, the imperatives of our foreign policy are, or should be, beyond partisan politics.
We can stand true to our principles, support Caricom, and be a good neighbour to all in the hemisphere, as we have always done, and sometimes in opposition to the US, and even our Caricom partners.
Are we to understand that the views of Rodney Charles represent the views of the UNC? If they do, has the UNC abandoned the cardinal tenets of our foreign policy? If this is not the case, what is the position of the UNC on these important issues, beyond merely attempting to castigate and embarrass the prime minister and foreign minister?
Terrence AL Walker
PNM Foreign Affairs Committee