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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1236
2006-07-14 21:45:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

OECS 25TH ANNIVERSARY: PITY PARTY OF NINE

Tags:   EAID  ECON  ETRD  PGOV  PREL  PINR  SC  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #1236/01 1952145
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 142145Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2928
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1469
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001236 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/14/2016
TAGS: EAID ECON ETRD PGOV PREL PINR SC XL
SUBJECT: OECS 25TH ANNIVERSARY: PITY PARTY OF NINE

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 992

B. BRIDGETOWN 797

C. BRIDGETOWN 754

D. BRIDGETOWN 553

Classified By: Ambassador Mary Kramer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001236

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/14/2016
TAGS: EAID ECON ETRD PGOV PREL PINR SC XL
SUBJECT: OECS 25TH ANNIVERSARY: PITY PARTY OF NINE

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 992

B. BRIDGETOWN 797

C. BRIDGETOWN 754

D. BRIDGETOWN 553

Classified By: Ambassador Mary Kramer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary: Leaders of the Organization of Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS) met in St. Kitts June 21-23 to
celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization's
founding. The event could have provided an opportunity for
participants to extol the advances made since the signing of
the Treaty of Basseterre in 1981, but was instead used to
lament the region's limitations and reprimand more developed
countries for their callousness toward the Eastern Caribbean.
The outgoing OECS Chairman, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, went out of his way to
pillory the United States for "arrogant triumphalism," among
other perceived failings. A notable absence from the
gathering was St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, who was
receiving medical care in Cuba. End summary.


2. (U) Ambassador Kramer and Poloff attended events marking
the twenty-fifth anniversary of the OECS in St. Kitts on June
21, including the opening ceremony, trade fair, donor
conference, and gala dinner. Notable among the events was
the signing of the Declaration of Intent to Form an Economic
Union, a preliminary step in the further economic integration
of the OECS, which is expected to become final with the
signing of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre on July 1, 2007
(ref D).


3. (U) Representatives from the nine OECS member states
(independent nations Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada,
St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, and self-governing British overseas territories
Anguilla, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands) met in

St. Kitts June 21-23 for what could have been a
forward-looking and celebratory event, but was instead
characterized by excessive complaining. With the notable
exception of a trade fair that demonstrated the
entrepreneurial potential of the Eastern Caribbean, events
that should have highlighted the progress made since the 1981
founding of the OECS, such as successful cooperation on a
unified monetary system, were marred by numerous references
to the poor economic position in which the region finds
itself. The blame was laid firmly at the feet of more
developed countries and international donors.

Opening Ceremony - Would You Like Whine With That?
-------------- --------------


4. (U) In her opening remarks, Dr. Len Ishmael, Director
General of the OECS, expressed her belief that Eastern
Caribbean political and economic integration should be
carried out by the current regional leaders who, because of
their similar social and educational backgrounds, share a
common Caribbean culture. In contrast, the OECS Director is
concerned that the next generation of regional leaders will
have been influenced more by a globalized culture, thereby
making them less likely to have a deep commitment to regional
integration. Ishmael,s remarks also reflected an "us vs.
them" mentality common within the Eastern Caribbean
sub-region when she referred to CARICOM as another regulatory
group with which OECS states have bilateral and cooperative
relations.


5. (U) Typical of sentiments expressed during the OECS
meeting were the remarks of St. Kitts and Nevis Prime
Minister Denzil Douglas, who commented that the region was
suffering from the "fallout of international incidents" such
as the termination of sugar and banana subsidies and
preferential trade agreements. The PM said that the next
step for the OECS was to sign its new economic union treaty
that would forge closer trade ties; for this effort to
succeed the region would need the support of its development
partners (i.e., more money).

Trade Fair
--------------


6. (U) The Trade Fair was the only event which showcased the
potential of the region to move beyond its historical
dependency on agriculture and tourism. Approximately sixty
business ventures from various islands were present, ranging
from entertainment to textiles, building materials to gourmet
foods and beverages, and pottery to skin care products. To
participate in the Trade Fair the companies had to have a
business plan, proven capacity to meet demand and established
quality controls. The diversity of products, professional
promotional materials and packaging, and unique design of
similar products from different islands showed the
entrepreneurial promise of the region.

Comrade Ralph on a Roll
--------------


7. (U) An audible groan arose from various quarters as the
garrulous outgoing OECS Chairman and PM of St. Vincent and
the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, announced that he was
tossing out his prepared speech because "others had already
touched on those topics." Speaking extemporaneously,
Gonsalves exhorted participants to remember 1981, when the
original Treaty of Basseterre brought the OECS to life, and
look at the progress made since then.


8. (U) Gonsalves echoed a refrain commonly heard in the
Caribbean when he lambasted the U.S. for displaying "arrogant
triumphalism" since the end of the Cold War for having the
attitude that small island people are insignificant, do not
know what they are doing, and tend to "follow fashion"
politically and economically. He also condemned the British
for having amnesia with regard to the region, noting that the
only reason these small states entered the sugar and banana
business was to support the British Empire. Now these
staunch supporters of the UK and U.S. have been tossed aside.



9. (U) "Comrade Ralph," as he is affectionately referred to
in St. Vincent, proceeded to rail against the developed world
and the U.S. in particular for being selfish and arrogant in
implementing disaster assistance for hurricane damage. He
blamed the same countries who provide meager assistance to
counteract the effects of global warming for making climate
change so much more devastating to small island states. On a
roll, Gonsalves pledged that the OECS would stand for
principle against power and blasted the U.S. for increasing
criminal behavior in the Caribbean, not by deporting
criminals but by exporting "ghetto culture" through music,
movies, and television.

A Rational Voice Is Heard
--------------


10. (U) Incoming Chairman of the OECS and Prime Minister of
Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer was more statesmanlike
and conciliatory in his remarks than the other speakers,
although he refrained from rebutting even their most
outrageous claims. The PM noted that political and economic
integration would affect the relationships of OECS member
states that were moving from inter-governmental to
supranational relations. Spencer attempted to allay the
potential concerns of CARICOM counterparts present that OECS
economic union might undermine the CARICOM Single Market and
Economy (CSME), stating that it was still the intention of
the Eastern Caribbean to participate fully in Caribbean-wide
integration.

Where is PM Anthony?
--------------


11. (U) The absence of St. Lucia PM Kenny Anthony was noted,
considering the significance of the OECS's twenty-fifth
anniversary. The PM was with his wife in Cuba where they
both reportedly received medical treatment. The PM, who is
due to call an election later this year, attempted to keep
his medical treatment a secret until rumors began circulating
in St. Lucia and the Government had to release an official
statement.

Comment
--------------


12. (C) Sadly, the OECS's twenty-fifth anniversary appeared
to be a missed opportunity: rather than sharing a positive
vision for the future, Eastern Caribbean leaders seemed
intent on holding a pity party. Although they represent the
smallest states in CARICOM, the OECS group is better
integrated than CARICOM as a whole. OECS integration is
proceeding, both within the sub-region and with the larger
CARICOM group, but sensitivity over sovereignty issues,
personality conflicts among leaders, and trade complaints
among the island states will likely continue to slow the
process.
KRAMER