Outgoing Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Barbados Gustavo Pandiani is calling on authorities in Bridgetown to further deepen relations with South and Central American countries in several areas to help boost economic activity.
In addition, he is cautioning against implementing bilateral programmes and initiatives for residents without consulting those intended to benefit.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY ahead of his departure next week, Pandiani said he believed Barbados could be “the perfect bridge” between the English-speaking Caribbean and Argentina and the rest of South and Central America.
“We are geographically close, but politically far. That is something we should modify in the near future . . . . Sometimes politically we are not connecting,” he said.
The Ambassador said while he understood the Caribbean would naturally look to North America and Europe for commerce and investment because of tradition and history, he believed the region could benefit tremendously from deeper relations with Buenos Aires.
“I believe that now Central America and South America should be great partners for you – for tourism, for businesses, for investment – we need to connect a little better. Even in terms of the transportation possibilities. We have just one flight coming from Panama. We need to have more flights coming from Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and even Mexico.
“We do not have connections in terms of logistics, and that reflects sometimes that we need to work a little more on our political coordination,” he said.
Barbados’ Ambassador to Argentina Tonika Sealy-Thompson was confirmed in that South American country recently. She is also the Barbados representative in Brazil, where she is based.
Pandiani is hoping that she will be a conduit to help create the bridge between the two regions.
“Barbados has a friend in Argentina forever and I will also help you to connect with my country,” he said as he also expressed confidence that the next Argentine Ambassador to Barbados would continue with critical projects he started in several sectors.
At the same time, the diplomat said he wished decision makers would check with the people they are making choices for when it came to putting bilateral arrangements in place.
“If not, it is just an agreement and you sign a paper, we say we love each other and then nothing happens. That is not how I understand cooperation should be. Cooperation for me is to work from the bottom up and not the top down.
“So, first, you need to know the society, identify the needs, identify the priorities and identify the interest. Sometimes you believe the interest is that and it happens to be exactly the opposite,” he explained.
Drawing on his own experience with the involvement of dairy farmers and fisherfolk to solve some of the issues they were facing here, he said: “In order to be successful with such projects, you need to know the needs of the farmers and fishers because if not, you are just a bureaucrat. If you don’t talk to them and understand what is going on behind the scenes, probably the projects are not going to be a success . . . and the same goes for all projects in the area of agriculture, public health.”
“Diplomacy is not only a government to government activity. Good diplomacy is a people to people activity . . . . With the media and the social media you have access to everyone, and you have to walk the streets in order to be a good ambassador. If you do not walk the streets you are not going to understand what is going on out there,” he added.
Pandiani, who started his ambassadorship to Barbados two years and ten months ago, is scheduled to depart the island next Thursday.