St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves has described as “troubling” last Friday’s meeting between President Donald J. Trump and select Caribbean leaders.
Speaking to reporters in Barbados on Saturday, following a meeting with stakeholders of the regional air carrier, LIAT, Gonsalves noted that there was no true representation of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at the meeting.
He said the current chairman of the regional grouping, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris, was not present at the meeting, nor were members of the CARICOM advisory committee, including himself, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.
“None of those persons were invited; and, for it to be a true CARICOM representation, you must, at least, have the chairman,” the Vincentian leader said.
“It cuts across the agreement mechanisms that we have put in place,” he added. “We in CARICOM have to be very alive to the mischief that some persons may be up to, to seek to divide us in a manner which we ought not to be divided and, therefore, reduce the extent of our work.”
On Friday, the Prime Ministers of Jamaica, The Bahamas and St. Lucia, as well as the Presidents of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, met with Trump to discuss the crisis in Venezuela and energy, the Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) noted.
Regarding the Venezuelan Petro Caribe preferential arrangement, which has been ceased because of sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the Trump administration, Gonsalves said it would be “ridiculous” for Caribbean states to abide by an energy agreement by self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, reported CMC.
“It is entirely ridiculous that you bring something to an end through sanctions and then the beneficiary politically, Mr. Guiado, is going to offer an energy agreement. We look stupid or something?” Gonsalves asked rhetorically.
“We are not supporting the principles of non-intervention and non-interference and no threats or force or sanctions,” he added. “We are not holding a position on these things because we have a Petro agreement. We are doing so because of high principle and our commitment to international law.”
The prime minister said that video conference will be held with the Canadian Government, acting as an interlocutor for the Caribbean Governments, to speak to Guaido and his representatives, according to CMC.
“I just want to keep CARICOM viable, and I don’t have to try and make the CARICOM civilization great again,” Gonsalves said. “We are an alive civilization of legitimacy. We have a history of achievement, and we have a trajectory for ennoblement.
“We are not better than anybody, and nobody is better than us,” he added. “And you must not try to divide us.”