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OUR CARIBBEAN: Now that there is the second-term Obama presidency

OUR CARIBBEAN: Now that there is the second-term Obama presidency

By Rickey Singh | Fri, November 09, 2012 - 12:00 AM

As the world settles down to maintaining friendship and business ties with the United States under a second-term President Barack Obama, the Caribbean Community would naturally be hoping for a more beneficial relationship.

However, given the realities of US foreign policy priorities in, for instance, the Middle East and Asia, the Caribbean may now have to be much more proactive in demanding Washington’s attention for improved trade and economic benefits that could diminish lingering pessimism and cynicism spawned by appealing official rhetoric.

Will Obama, eloquent in rhetoric on meaningful relations offered at the Fifth and Sixth Summits of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago and Colombia, respectively, devise specific initiatives on benefits as well as for ending the hostility with Venezuela and the economic blockade against Cuba?

We knew of the Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s obsession with China as an emerging economic superpower. But governments as well leading private sector decision-makers of the Caribbean would have a more realistic view of China’s growing interest as a sympathetic partner.

Equally, they would be conscious of the value to this region if the US could demonstrate an understanding of how lessening tension in relations with as well as mature political responses to Cuba, could result in boosting better Caribbean-US relations.

In the case of Venezuela, its Petro-Caribe project has emerged as vital to CARICOM states coping with rising fuel prices and a stubborn economic recession. But all of CARICOM understand the pluses for improved Washington-Caracas relations.

So far as Cuba is concerned, successive US administrations know only too well of the historical political and cultural bonds that bind the government and people of Cuba and CARICOM.

At present, while, on the one hand, there are concerns over secret initiatives by Obama to involve CARICOM governments in facilitating unmanned drones criss-crossing the Caribbean in a new strategy to combat drug-trafficking, there are open and growing protests over the discriminatory treatment of this region’s vital rum trade with America.

Will this and other wider concerns of CARICOM be addressed any time soon?

What have been some of the positive outcomes from various encounters between Obama and CARICOM leaders on the so-called “margins” of meetings at the United Nations and the summits?

Glad to have you back, Mr President. Now, we await a few new initiatives in the interest of our Caribbean region.

• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean ­journalist.

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