Thursday 24 September, 2020

Barbados PM warns of attempt to divide CARICOM amid Pompeo visit

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley (file photo).

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley (file photo).

The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, has suggested that an attempt is being made to divide the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Her suggestion, which is being reported in regional media, comes as some Caribbean leaders get ready to meet with United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Jamaica on Tuesday.

Mottley said her foreign minister will not travel to Kingston for the meeting.

Addressing a gala to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Barbados Prime Minister and regional integrationist, Errol W Barrow, in Barbados on Saturday night, Mottley said she is conscious that in the next week questions will be asked as to whether the Barbados foreign minister “happened to be missing in a meeting in Kingston in Jamaica that will take place on Tuesday”.

In elaborating, she said: “We don’t look to pick fights. I don’t look to pick fights, but I am conscious that if this country does not stand for something, then it will fall for anything.

“As chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region,” Mottley told the gathering at the ceremony.

Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, has said Pompeo is to arrive in Jamaica on Tuesday for a two-day working visit which is a move by the United States to strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

But the warning and criticism from Mottley are similar to those that were directed at the visit last March to the White House in the United States by five regional leaders, including Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, to meet with US President, Donald Trump. That invitation was seen as a reward for them backing a resolution at the Organisation of American States (OAS) that did not recognise Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s second five-year term in office.

The meeting was called by Trump to discuss the then ongoing turmoil in Venezuela and energy security, among other issues.

The meeting was also attended by the leaders of St Lucia, Haiti, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, which is not a member of CARICOM.

The five Caribbean leader who attended the meeting were described as “weak-minded” by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, over their decision to accept the invitation to meet with Trump under the then circumstances.

“I feel embarrassed for those weak-minded leaders who allowed themselves to be used by carrying out the agenda of others,” Browne wrote on his Facebook page.

The decision of the five to accept that meeting was also criticised by Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who accused the United States of trying to divide the region.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, also weighed in on the matter.

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