Washington cold on rum issue
Locked in a row over United States rum subsidies to international producers, Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours are worried about Washington’s seeming indifference to the region’s plight.
And the countries believed the heated United States presidential and congressional election campaigns may be responsible for Washington’s cold shoulder.
Essentially, as Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours raised their collective voices in protest against huge subsidies which the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico were providing to major rum producers on their soil, Washington was remaining silent, virtually ignoring pleas for attention to an issue that could cost thousands of workers their jobs and governments more than $250 million in revenue from rum exports, some diplomats said.
Two months after Barbados spearheaded a move to protest against the hefty rum subsidies that covered 100 per cent of the production costs of rum distilled in St Croix, the Obama administration had virtually ignored the pleas of the Caribbean for an end to the measures which, they warned, could destroy the rum industry in the English-, Spanish-, Dutch- and Creole-speaking Caribbean countries.