OUR CARIBBEAN: Measuring Caricom’s silence
HAVING FAILED to resolve some sensitive regional political and security issues, Heads of Government of our Caribbean Community were still to approve earlier this week the official communiqué on their two-day inter-sessional meeting last week in The Bahamas.
Latest indication from the communications unit of the Georgetown-based CARICOM Secretariat, at the time of writing this column, was that some heads were yet to signal their approval of the draft communiqué.
As to be expected, official communiqués of any meeting/conference of Heads of Government, anywhere, avoid reflecting negative posturings or details pertaining to disagreements. But three days after their two-day meeting in Nassau, the silence on the release of the communiqué on the 26th Inter-Sessional had become somewhat deafening – considering the resources at their command.
Prior to the start of this meeting, outstanding issues for resolution included anxieties to resolve sharp differences with the Dominican Republic over race-based discriminatory treatment of Haitian immigrants, including thousands of them born in that Spanish-speaking nation.
This controversy had led also to a strong reprimand from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights that coincided with related charges from the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association against dehumanising treatment by government authorities of asylum-seeking immigrants.
These claims have been strongly denied by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie, current CARICOM chairman who hosted last week’s summit.
Among matters requiring consensus but continuing to be elusive, is that pertaining to regional endorsement being sought by three candidates for the post of new secretary general of the 53-member Commonwealth. Some quite emotional displays were on show.
They are: Dominica-born British citizen, Baroness Scotland, a former attorney general of the United Kingdom where she grew up after leaving this region as a little girl; Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development Dr Bhoe Tewarie, and Sir Ronald Sanders, long-standing diplomat for Antigua and Barbuda.
Last December when the issue of a choice for new Commonwealth secretary general surfaced on the margins of the regular CARICOM/Cuba Summit in Havana, nine of a dozen votes were cast in Sir Ronald’s favour.
Since then there have been some intense discussions and lobbying but in the end, the leaders failed to reach a consensus at their meeting last week in The Bahamas.
Of even more immediate concern was failure also by the heads to reach agreement on sensitive issues pertaining to national/regional security, resulting in a failed initiative by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who has lead responsibility for regional security.
One of the issues that suffered in the quest for consensus on regional security, as reportedly initiated by Mrs Persad-Bissessar, related to the need for a common approach in responding to the spreading worldwide threats emanating from ISIS terrorists with suspected regional links.
Perhaps some information/clarification may yet come in the delayed communiqué.
Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.