(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Donald Tapia, United States (US) ambassador to Jamaica, has dismissed an accusation by CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley that the North American superpower is attempting to split the 15-member regional bloc.
In January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Jamaica for a two-day working visit with select heads of government in CARICOM, a move that Mottley criticised as an attempt to divide and rule.
Neither Mottley nor a representative from Barbados attended the meeting, which was believed to be part of a campaign to shore up votes for incumbent Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro.
Almagro is openly hostile towards Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and has sided with the US in lobbying for his replacement as that country’s leader by opposition congressman Juan Guaidó.
Addressing a Lions Club of Kingston meeting yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus, Tapia categorically rejected the assertion.
“Jamaica, the Caribbean, CARICOM, and so forth, are so important to us as a south border that we need to start building the Caribbean, not only Jamaica, but the Caribbean.
“… When Secretary Pompeo came here about a month ago, they said that the United States was trying to split (CARICOM). We weren’t trying to split. Every member, every one of the 15 members of CARICOM was invited, but the subject, they didn’t like the subject, so they refused to come, they decided not to come,” Tapia said.
The US diplomat, who took up his post as ambassador to Jamaica last August, suggested that the meeting was outside of the remit of the CARICOM. Tapia insisted that Mottley and others ought not to interfere in the sovereign dealings and foreign policy of any country.
“It’s her duty to try and put her arms around CARICOM, which she did, but at the same time, you are a sovereign nation. You have different foreign policies, so, therefore, what she is saying was incorrect … ,” Tapia said.
The ambassador also made it clear that the US would not interfere in Jamaica’s political processes.
“One of the things that I want to point out to you or make a broad statement, the United States of America doesn’t get involved in the political field here in Jamaica. We are here as a guest of Jamaica,” he said.
“It is not up to the United States or any country to tell people how to vote because the fact is, Jamaicans have to determine the type of government they want to govern them.”