United States President Barrack Obama should use his visit to Cuba this week as the “springboard” for a more meaningful, respectful and engaging relationship between Washington and the Caribbean, social activist David Comissiong has recommended.
Comissiong is not enamoured of Obama’s policy towards the region, describing it as “a big disappointment”.
However, he has complimented the American leader’s efforts at normalizing relations with Havana and saw this week’s visit as “one of the rare positives” of Obama’s tenure.
He told Barbados TODAY that despite the limited time left in his presidency, America’s first black leader still had time to chart a new path in US/Caribbean relations.
“I would say that generally speaking, Obama’s administration has been a big disappointment to people of African descent and people of the Caribbean and people of the Third World in general . . . . People like me thought when Obama came to power, that he would have used his position to engineer a new type of relationship between the United States of America and the Caribbean and Latin America,” Comissiong said.
“He should use this idea of opening up to Cuba as the springboard, even in these last few months of his administration to try to put in place a new relationship, a new policy between the United States and the Caribbean.”
Obama’s visit was the first by a sitting US president since 1928 and was a demonstration of his vision to normalize relations with one of Washington’s most bitter and long-standing enemies.
Barbados’ Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Robert Bobby Morris saw the trip as a sign that normalization of the relationship between the two countries was inevitable.
Morris pointed to the strong interest in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean from American firms, suggesting that reluctant US politicians would be forced to follow the lead of the businesses.
“I am optimistic that in the years coming . . . there would be free intercourse between Cuba [and the United States]. . . . So these are exciting times for me and I believe for people of my age. All of us are seeing a turnaround that we could not legitimately have expected when we were younger; just as the fall of Russia [the Soviet Union], we never anticipated that. We are seeing the inevitable ebb and flow of history which washes certain things away; and no matter how strong the bulwark seems, the ebb and flow of history can sometimes turn things over,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Morris described Raul Castro as a man of “tremendous” courage, but warned that political and social change would not be “an easy walk over,” in Cuba.(EJ)