A Cold Wind Starts To Blow

(This excerpt is from “David Jessop | A Cold Wind Starts To Blow” courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner.)

New winds are blowing through the Caribbean. Some may welcome what they bring, others may not.

Four events in the last 14 days illustrate how the region is being captured, probably irretrievably, by a new if so far ill-defined cold war that involves the US, China, Russia, and Europe, which for strategic reasons, are seeking geo-political and geo-economic influence in the region.

The most high-profile demonstration of this came in Washington’s decision to invite just five Caribbean leaders to a meeting with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on March 22. A second illustration was a pre-arranged visit to the Dominican Republic just one day later by the Chinese Vice Premier, Hu Chunhua. The third relates to Venezuela and a low-key exchange organised with Canadian support between a delegation of CARICOM foreign ministers and Juan Guaidó, the country’s self-declared president. And the fourth was a Royal visit to Cuba, which indirectly underlined the growing transatlantic rift between Europe and the US.

Each has implications for the political and economic integrity of the Caribbean. Each suggests that the region is now caught in a multipolar power struggle in which a small number of nations seek to create spheres of influence around their not-easy-to-reconcile world views and values.

Although there are various versions of what took place at the meeting with President Trump in Florida, and despite a White House briefing before the event suggesting that the discussion would centre on Venezuela and China’s role in the region, in reality, such issues were not the overriding purpose of the encounter.

Apart from the fact that such issues had anyway previously been discussed bilaterally by others, the principal purpose, as the Caribbean leaders present and President Trump indicated just before the meeting began, was how the US might respond now and in the future for their support.

Read the press releases and statements made by the Caribbean leaders after the event – the White House said almost nothing – and it becomes clear that Jamaica, Haiti, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and St Lucia, while stressing the need for support for the whole region after years of neglect, now stand to benefit the most from Washington’s transactional approach. This was underlined by the participants being able to make requests on issues of bilateral concern… (read the rest at the Jamaica Gleaner)

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