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“Seventeen countries of the Caribbean face a heightened period of economic uncertainty now that Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has died,” contends former Caribbean diplomat Sir Ronald Walters in a March 10, 2013, article published at Kaieteur News Online.  See “The Caribbean after Chavez.”

The highly regarded commentator noted:

Twelve of the 17 Caribbean countries are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). They have become highly reliant on their oil supplies from Venezuela on a part payment-part loan scheme, called Petro Caribe, without which their difficult economic circumstances would be decidedly worse. Of the $14 billion worth of oil that Venezuela provided under Petro Caribe to the 17 dependent countries up to last year, $5.8 billion constituted long-term financing. Cuba is the principal beneficiary but, in per capita terms, so too are a number of CARICOM countries – Jamaica particularly.

I highly recommend Mr. Walter’s sober analysis, which is in stark contrast to much of the sarcastic and hostile commentary I read about Mr. Chavez and his economic policies in the days following his death. The analysis is substantive and shows a deep understanding of Mr. Chavez’s policies and the impact they had on the leaders and populations of Caribbean and other nations in the region. See “The Caribbean’s Debt to Hugo Chavez.”

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St Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony told the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)Summit in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 18, 2013: “The truth is that our relationship with Europe is becoming even more and more one-sided, with Europe seemingly having its way at ever turn on every occasion.” See “Anthony: Caribbean’s Relationship With Europe “More and More One-Sided”

Flag_of_CARICOM.svgAlexander Britell, writing in the Caribbean Journal, quoted Mr. Anthony as saying, “Europe had its way with bananas, sugar and EPA [the Economic Partnership Agreement] and now it is having its way with differentiation.”

According to Mr. Britell, “’Differentiation’ is part of a proposal by the EU (European Union) to change the way it determines its aid, particularly to the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).”

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February 3-8 is Diplomatic Week in Jamaica

“As Jamaica prepares to celebrate Diplomatic Week with heads of mission from around the world, it is opportune for an assessment of whether the country has adjusted its foreign policy agenda in keeping with 21st-century complexities, and how much sway the country has in the Western Hemisphere,” The Gleaner of Jamaica observed in a February 2, 2013, editorial headlined “Editorial - Will Jamaica Find Its Voice?”The publication quoted imageSenator A.J. Nichols, Jamaica’s minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade as saying the aim of Diplomatic Week is "to update heads of mission on government policy touching on foreign trade and external affairs; to highlight the work and service of diplomats and their contribution to the cordial relations that exist between Jamaican and other countries; to facilitate deeper bilateral relations on issues of mutual interest; and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding."

For more on Diplomatic Week, see the Jamaica Observer’s article headlined “February 3-8 is Diplomatic Week.”

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Will 2010 See A Major Shift In U.S.-Cuba Relations?

“Relations between Cuba and the United States are still bogged down in longstanding political and ideological differences, in spite of the signals of greater openness and opportunities for dialogue when Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama arrived at the White House,” writes Patricia Grogg in a December 29, 2009, post at Inter Press Service (IPS) headlined “CUBA-US: Stuck at a Standstill.”

Grogg list several moves the Obama Administration has made to improve ties with Cuba but noted that, “initial perceptions that Obama could be the president to bring about a shift in Cuba policy appear to have changed, only a few weeks before the first anniversary of his inauguration in January.”

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Has The United Kingdom's Lost Interest in the Caribbean?

CHICAGO, USA -- David Jessop, director of the London-based Caribbean Council, proclaimed in a February 10, 2008, article in the Jamaica Gleaner headlined "Changing the rules of engagement - UK disinterest in Caribbean requires new foreign-policy approach:

Late last year, a book was published in Britain that should be essential reading for every Caribbean prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and senior official. Importantly, it provides clues about why the United Kingdom (UK) cares little about the Caribbean and suggests how the region might be better able to move policy to its advantage.

The book, The Triumph of the Political Class, written by a leading British political commentator, Peter Oborne, has as its central theme the emergence of a political class that has ceased to serve the country; one that has lost touch with the people and largely acts not in their interests but to maintain its own power and privilege.

He argues that the British political model has changed. Politics has become a profession unleavened by the experience or practicality of periods working in normal employment.

Mr. Jessop adds: "When it comes to foreign policy, Oborne suggests that the decline in the influence of the Foreign Office has occurred precisely because it had integrity and was an independent and powerful voice in government."

"For the Caribbean, with government models and thinking largely based on the British system, all of this is significant," Mr. Jessop contends. "It explains not only why it has become ever more difficult to attract the attention of senior British ministers and officials, but also suggests that the reason the region no longer has a policy space in the European Union (EU) is because the problems of the Caribbean hardly ever relate to the maintenance of domestic power."

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Presidents Chavez, Ortega And Correa Set To Be Sworn In

Agence France Presse Correspondent Victor Flores, writing from Caracas, Venezuela, reported January 10, 2007, that,  "In  the course of a week, Venezuela's firebrand President Hugo Chavez will be sworn in for a new term, followed by leftist allies Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador whom he hopes will form an anti-US axis of the left."

To read more, please see the report carried by Caribbean Net News headlined "Flush Chavez hopes to bolster anti-US coalition in Latin America.

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