Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A big Caribbean screw-up

Like a drunken tourist on a Caribbean cruise, the United States excels at making itself unwelcome.

Amazingly, the US can no longer exert the influence it once did in the tiny Caribbean island nations.

While the focus has been on Arab and Islamic parts of the world, the administration has cooked up failure after failure in the American hemisphere (we can start with how it let Chavez off the hook when it could have made a difference).

Last week, the US lost the support of all 15 member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which voted to support the Chavez regime in Venezuela as the region's rotating member on the United Nations Security Council.

This is another diplomatic disaster for the US, which had backed Guatemala, in the Americas. It seems as though everything the United States touches turns to mierda.

Jamaica's main newspaper, the centrist Daily Gleaner, isn't pro-Chavez and certainly values the United States. However, in a recent editorial, it said that Venezuela's petropolitics weren't the only reason why the 15 Caribbean states backed Chavez over democratic Guatemala.

The administration would have been wise to listen to our Jamaican friends.

The pro-Chavez vote, the Gleaner said in its July 12 editorial, "has to do with more than the concessionary PetroCaribe oil agreement provided by Venezuela.

"The region does not see Guatemala as a natural ally. Guatemala has, in the past, pursued with great hostility its claim to all of Belize, the English-speaking CARICOM member in Central America. It behaved in the same fashion at the World rade Organisation against the preferential access to the region's bananas in the European Union's market. The ruling in its favour is disastrous to some Caribbean economies. Guatemala's social policies also do not sit well with the Caribbean.

"While Venezuela maintains a claim to two-thirds of Guyana it has not pursued the claim with the same hostility, even extending the PetroCaribe benefits to Georgetown [Guyana]. Indeed, Venezuela is seen as a reliable partner.

"It is important for Jamaica and other CARICOM governments to explain to the US what it already knows in the realm of foreign policy: that support for Venezuela does not weaken respect for the US and ought not to weaken the deep, underlying relationship."

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