Why is CARICOM so determined to draw The Bahamas into diplomatic fight with the U.S.?
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, of Antigua and Barbuda, minced no words in denouncing Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis along with Allan Chastanet (St. Lucia), Andrew Holness (Jamaica), Jovenel Moïse (Haiti) and Danilo Medina (Dominican Republic) for attending a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida. The audience with the president of the United States (POTUS) is being seen as a reward for supporting the U.S. policy on Venezuela in its backing of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as opposed to current President Nicolas Maduro. CARICOM traditionally takes a laissez faire approach in such diplomatic matters. The Free National Movement (FNM) administration of Dr. Minnis has taken the unconventional route in tacitly supporting the overthrow of dictator Maduro, whose socialist policies have crippled Venezuela. One can argue about the merits of the Minnis administration’s decision in this regard. I believe that it would be immoral to stand by silently in the presence of political evil, as CARICOM and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chair Fred Mitchell are obviously prepared to do. If CARICOM wants to ruffle the feathers of the U.S. and thereby jeopardize its diplomatic relations with the most powerful nation in the world, then that’s on them. CARICOM is currently on a fool’s errand, in my opinion.
The late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, of the People’s National Party, learned that the hard way when he experimented with Fidel Castro and communism during the 1970s. Jamaica, with its devalued currency at JM$124.89 to US$1, has yet to recover economically. Manley failed to appreciate, as many of the CARICOM leaders do today, which side his bread was buttered on. Holness, of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), understands very well the dangers of puffing up one’s chest to the U.S. It was the JLP government of the 1980s under former Prime Minister Edward Seaga that fought valiantly to restore his country’s relations with the U.S.
The Bahamas is economically sustained by America, as nearly 70 percent of our tourists hail from that country. Unlike Trinidad and Tobago, which is a wealthy oil-producing Caribbean country, The Bahamas produces virtually nothing. The Bahamas is simply not in the position to engage in any diplomatic fight with our most important and strategic benefactor. Gaston Browne and his CARICOM allies, who were supposedly snubbed by Uncle Sam, do not seem to even remotely understand, let alone appreciate, the dynamics of the Bahamian economy and how it is intricately tied to the U.S. Just recently PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis admonished the Minnis administration to keep out of the ongoing trade spat between China and the U.S. I wholeheartedly agree with Davis. However, I believe it was just a few days before Davis’ timely admonishment that Mitchell was in the press prodding Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield and the FNM to issue a travel advisory for Bahamians travelling to the U.S. after the brutal, unprovoked attack on a Bahamian in Broward County, Florida. His advice came off as a patriotic cry for The Bahamas to engage in a tit-for-tat with the Americans.
So which is it? Do we take a laissez faire approach in our relations with the U.S., or do we take on a combative posture, as Mitchell seems anxious for us to do? Anyone who thinks that a nation with a population that is 227,000 fewer than Wyoming’s, which has the lowest population in the U.S., should do that is dangerously naive. If the U.S. were to hang The Bahamas out to dry, is CARICOM in the financial position to sustain this country? Anyone with a low IQ on the geopolitical situation in the region would know the answer to that question.
Moving forward, the Minnis administration should draft a response to Browne for issuing such an uncivil press release, which is totally unbecoming of a Caribbean ally. CARICOM and Browne should not interfere with this country and the diplomatic decisions it makes in the best interests of the Bahamian people.
— Kevin Evans