Question marks over Caribbean unity as selective prime ministers meet with President Trump

By CMC

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Anthony Astaphan (left) and Donald Trump

ROSEAU, Dominica, Mar 20, CMC – A senior advisor to the Dominica government Wednesday warned of a possible erosion of Caribbean unity as he criticised the decision of United States President Donald Trump to meet with selected regional leaders on Friday to discuss issues ranging from Venezuela to Chinese economic intervention in the Caribbean.

The White House, in a statement, said that Trump, at the meeting at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, will reaffirm Washington’s “strong friendship with and commitment to these countries, and signal the importance of the Caribbean to the hemisphere”.

“The president will discuss his vision for our diverse relationships in the Caribbean and the potential opportunities for energy investment,” said the statement, adding that Trump and the Caribbean leaders will also discuss Chinese economic intervention in the region and the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

Trump has invited the leaders of The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the meeting.

Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio here, said that his position on Trump’s invitation to the selective prime ministers, takes into consideration the fact that the president or for that matter the head of government could invite whom he or she pleases to a meeting.

“But the prime ministers from CARICOM are the ones with the obligation and the duty and the decency to make a calculated decision on the basis for respect for the unity of CARICOM, and that in fact the president or the prime minister of England or Canada, wants to have a discussion with Caribbean countries about any matter relating to China or …in relation to Venezuela it has to be with the representatives of CARICOM and must include the chairman of CARICOM,” Astaphan said.

Astaphan added that none of the selective prime ministers who will meet with Trump “has the authority or the jurisdiction to speak on behalf of CARICOM”.

“They certainly can’t speak on behalf of St. Vincent, Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis, Dominica and Grenada. They don’t have the authority,” he said, describing the upcoming talks as being “cosmetic”.

He said he believes the regional leaders, especially those from the OECS, have shown “complete disrespect for the unity of the OECS… by deciding to go to a meeting and neglecting the fact that the chairman of CARICOM is not Allen Chastanet (St. Lucia’s prime Minister) but Dr. Timothy Harris (the prime minister of St. Kitts-Nevis)”.

“As I said the president could invite who he wants, but those invited must have the moral and political courage to indicate that they cannot speak for CARICOM, they are not authorised to speak for CARICOM or for the OECS, and that the duly appointed representative of CARICOM must also be invited…”

Astaphan said he was certain that at the last OECS summit held in Guadeloupe last weekend “some of the prime ministers would have said that precise thing to Allen Chastanet”.

Astaphan said that the meeting could bring to the fore, a disunited CARICOM, noting that even on the issue of the European Union blacklisting the region as tax havens “some countries are acting very selfishly”.

“You cannot be a lone ranger in Caribbean politics,” Astaphan warned.

In January, Jamaica, Haiti, The Bahamas, Guyana and St. Lucia supported a resolution at the Organization of American States (OAS) in not recognizing Maduro’s second five-year term, while Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against the measure.

St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Belize abstained during the vote while Grenada was not present.

But Caribbean leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts-Nevis last month reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis where Guaidó, with the support of Washington, is seeking to replace President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term earlier this year.

(16)(11)
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18 comments

  1. SMH/// Its very simple understanding what does Saint Lucia Trade with China and Venezuela, and who are our largest trade partner let me answer its America so why would our leader not attend the invite and at what cost would it have been to saint Lucia. QUESTION what have Astaphan done for the people of the Caribbean STOP SPEAKING for Saint Lucia and save your opinion for yourself.

    (1)(0)
  2. Are we ever in the position to bargained? How much do we small islands contribute to the UN. Therefore the way I see it is that we with little must join hands with however can help at that time. Trump that is in power for now , Trump we will dance with until a new head is appointed.

    (0)(0)
  3. Alice In Wonderland

    How interesting that Chas was invited!! Guess Trump wants to know how Allen gave Teo land fro $US1 and acre yet he can find money to give civil servants a pay hike in the face of high inflationary prices.

    (0)(0)
  4. Trumps mantra, divide and conquer. He has successfully accomplished this phase. There is strength in numbers and I hope that Caribbean governments think this through prior to this meeting. We cannot let this guy dictate to us his take it or leave it approach.

    (8)(1)
  5. Trumps mantra, divide and conquer. He has successfully accomplished this phase. There is strength in numbers and I hope that Caribbean governments think this through prior to this meeting. We cannot let this guy dictate to us his take it or leave it approach.

    (2)(1)
  6. In the same breath, who made Anthony Astaphan a spokesman for the OECS and/or CARICOM?

    Folks, don't be deceived by that man and his utterances.

    I hope Chastent releases a strongly worded rebuke to Astaphan very soon. How dare he. He thinks Chastanet is one of his puppets in like manner as he has Skerrit?

    Steeeuuuuppsssssss!!!!!!!

    (10)(11)
  7. How many yes-men are there in CARICOM? Too many. Too many visionless non sans gwen marking time for their pensions and monopolizing power. Nom san gwen.

    Did I vote for them? No! I did not vote for them. Therefore, they have no power over me.

    (7)(3)
  8. Does anyone remember what happened the last time a delegation of Caribbean leaders were invited to speak with President Reagan in the White House? GRENADA WAS INVADED!!!

    (4)(0)
  9. Erosion of caricom unity? There is no such thing as unity in caricom

    (6)(2)
  10. The problem with the Caribbean is people like Astaphan. This penguin looking salop needs to shut up his pie hole. First of all, Trump did not call for a meeting with Caricom or OECS. Trump has the prerogative to meet with other leaders and other leaders have the prerogative to meet with Trump, outside of a Caricom/OECS agenda.

    Is Penguin head suggesting that leaders cannot meet with who they want? Like time I checked this thing was not a political union.

    (7)(7)
  11. They are going and bend the knee to Trump

    (6)(1)
  12. TheSaintLuciaActivist

    Everyone is singing for their supper... Every country in the world sees after their country's interests first (ask the European Union) even though they're part of an economic zone. The U.S. has their reasons that will profit their interests at the end. Any country that think they can profit from this meeting will attend.

    (4)(2)
  13. Talk about traitors.

    (4)(1)
  14. St Lucia has had a history of selling out to the highest bidder: no matter which party in power. Chastanet is no exception. I'm not surprised the island would turn aginast Venezuela and China who have long supported us socially and economically.

    If it was Labour they would do the same.

    It's a shame we are so easily bought by the superpowers

    (7)(2)
    • All of them a gang of prostitutes. Thats how they roll in that land. they will eat each other up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. its a lucian mentality and it takes place at all levels. the slp are masters and so are uWP people. they dont change.

      (0)(0)
  15. BOW ! A warning shot has been fired ! And it's 100% accurate.

    (6)(4)
  16. I do not need a Crystal Ball to say if it was Kenny all now so he already in Florida. S Tar Fan pay chou la, mal vay is wha!!

    (9)(23)

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