China, America; Which Way

The United States of America still behaves as if the Caribbean is its backyard. This means that the United States believes that it has a right to dictate the agenda of its engagements with the countries of the Caribbean, as seems to have been the case in the recent flying visit by the American Vice President to the Caribbean.
Thirty years after the Americans invaded the tiny island of Grenada, an American Vice President has come to further relations between the Caribbean and his country.
The Caribbean leaders met with him. Despite strong objections to the absence of Cuba from this meeting, in true Caribbean spirit, the leaders of the region have extended a warm welcome to Barack Obama’s number two.
As anticipated nothing of significance emerged out of that meeting. An agreement on trade and investment was signed. That agreement will have little impact on the Caribbean because it is based on US interests more than it is ours.
At the same time, a top Chinese team is also visiting and you can bet that the assistance that the Chinese are going to offer will make what the Americans have placed on the table look like a handful of toffees.
The main US interests in these parts is political and security. They wish to prevent a deepening of South- South integration. They are concerned that the emerging economies, particularly Brazil, China and India can seriously threaten their interests in these parts. And so they came prepared with their tokenism to offer the Caribbean some goodies so that their own multinationals will not be threatened and the Caribbean will continue to be a destination for their manufactured goods.
They have promised improved trade and investment but they have said very little about developmental assistance. They want the region to make the sacrifices to stop the flow of narcotics to the United States but what do they offer in the form of development grants and loans? Nothing!
Are they going to build a new airport? Will they construct a new harbour for Guyana? Are they going to finance a hydroelectric falls for Guyana? How many computers are they donating to Guyana?
The Americans are not offering anything. They will launch an HIV programme and make the people of the Caribbean believe that they are doing so much for them. But in fact they are merely protecting themselves.
Having a large migrant population for the Caribbean, it is in the US interests to want to curtail the spread of HIV in Guyana because they fear that unless it is contained at their doorsteps it could run amok in their country. And so they have offered funds to help combat the diseases.
But what else are they offering? What are they offering in the security field? They are not going to keep the deportees in their country. Instead they are dumping them back into a Region which still strongly holds to the view that the advent of serious crimes was linked to the influx of deportees. These crimes have now become fully home grown.
A once peaceful region has one of its major cities listed as the crime capital of the Caribbean.
The United States offers very little in terms of resources to combat the drug trade. When the Caribbean asks for assistance to fight crime in the Caribbean, the United States directs governments to private security firms. How about the United States offering to pay our drug enforcement officers the same pay as is given to their officers?
The US has nothing to offer the Caribbean anymore. It is even indicating that even if legislation is passed against money-laundering, it may not prevent the blacklisting of Guyana. So why bother with anything at all if the attitude of the US is that Caribbean countries have to run the full gauntlet of measures to avoid sanctions?
When he was first elected to office, Barack Obama came to the Caribbean and promised a new era of relations. That turned out to be a disappointment. The US has neglected the Caribbean. There has been no change in the relationship.
The outcome of the just concluded talks between the Vice President of the United States and Caribbean leaders will further entrench this existing state of affairs. The US wants to talk security, trade and investment. All these benefit them. The Caribbean wants to talk development and the US is not interested.
At the end of the day nothing is going to change. The Caribbean must now look towards China because that country will offer ten times more than the Americans have to offer.

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