Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Zakiya Uzoma Wadada
The Executive officers and members of the Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN) are drawn from thirteen CARICOM member states, and we are therefore convinced that we speak for the vast majority of the people of our Caribbean Community when we express our pride in and satisfaction at the principled stance that CARICOM has taken thus far on the issue of the upcoming Summit of the Americas.
Indeed, we applaud and fully support CARICOM’s position that the Heads of Government of ALL the independent nations of the Americas must be invited to the upcoming of the Summit which is slated to be held in Los Angeles, California, USA on 6th June 2022.
After all, a Summit of the Americas is, by its very definition, a meeting that includes all of the independent nations of our region of the Americas.
We are all aware that when President Bill Clinton of the USA called the very first Summit of the Americas in the year 1994, he marred the concept of the Summit by refusing to invite the Head of State of the Republic of Cuba.
However, that USA-orchestrated deficiency in the initial structure of the Summit was challenged, and by the time the 6th Summit was held in Colombia in the year 2012, a principled consensus had emerged and it was resolved that thenceforth every independent nation of the Americas would be invited to the Summit.
Thus, the Republic of Cuba – and every other independent nation of the Americas – was invited to the very next Summit that was held in Panama in the year 2015 – the 7th Summit of the Americas. And the same obtained with the 8th Summit of the Americas that was held in Lima, Peru in the year 2018, although the then President of Peru sought to wrongfully arrogate to himself the right to invite the nation of Venezuela to the Summit, but not Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
A Summit of the Americas is not the property of any particular nation or Government, and must not have inserted into it any political or ideological principle that is used to exclude nations, peoples or Heads of Government of our region.
All right-thinking people of the Caribbean were therefore horrified when we learnt that the US – the host nation of this year’s Summit of the Americas – had unilaterally determined that the nations of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not going to be invited to this year’s Summit. And that they were not going to be invited simply because the USA does not approve of the governments of these nations.
This piece of high-class folly on the part of President Biden and his Administration must not be facilitated or accommodated by the nations and governments of our hemisphere!
Indeed, even former US President, Donald Trump, did not sink to this low level in relation to the 2018 Summit of the Americas.
There is no principle whatsoever in the USA’s decision to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. It is simply a manifestation of a big and powerful nation setting out on a course of “might makes right”.
We therefore must not facilitate or condone this display of big power bullying, for if we do, we will merely be setting ourselves up for more of the same in the future – and all to our detriment.
The upcoming 9th Summit of the Americas is supposed to be an inclusive hemisphere-wide convocation dedicated
to the theme of “Building a Sustainable, Resilient and Equitable Future”.
If we permit the USA to inject exclusionary political and ideological considerations and determinants into such an event where will it all end?
Already, the USA feels that it has the right to tell CARICOM nations that they are not entitled to enter into economic relations with China or to avail themselves of the assistance of Cuban medical brigades.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we maintain our principled stance on this matter of the Summit of the Americas, and send the right message to President Biden.
The nations of Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras and even Brazil have all publicly confirmed that they will not be attending the Summit – and certainly not at the level of their Head of Government – if the USA persists with its policy of excluding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
This is the correct, principled stance, and it is incumbent on the other twelve CARICOM nations to stand shoulder to shoulder with these conscientious objectors.
We are aware that CARICOM’s natural inclination is to do the right and principled thing. This much was made clear when the Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister John Briceno of Belize, announced – at the conclusion of the CARICOM Heads of Government conference that was held in early March – that the CARICOM nations had resolved to boycott the Summit if the US insisted on excluding countries that it disapproved of.
But we are also aware that ever since then, the US has been applying all kinds of pressures on individual CARICOM nations and governments to force them to change their position.
Speaking on behalf of the masses of the Caribbean people, we wish to publicly urge our Heads of Government to resist all such illicit US pressures and to stand firm on the side of principle.
We, the people of the Caribbean, want a CARICOM that we can be proud of – a CARICOM that stands for principle; a CARICOM that does not abandon loyal friends like Cuba; a CARICOM that does not permit one or two principled CARICOM member states to have to stand up alone to a mighty power like the USA; a CARICOM of collective security.
The Caribbean people are paying very close attention to how this matter unfolds. Do not let us down. Yours faithfully
Zakiya Uzoma Wadada is Administrative Director Caribbean Pan African Network (CPAN)