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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN471
2006-03-16 14:32:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

HAVE WE LOST THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN: DO WE CARE

Tags:   PREL  US  XL 
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VZCZCXYZ0023
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #0471/01 0751432
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161432Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2118
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1398
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000471 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

CARACAS FOR DAO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2016
TAGS: PREL US XL
SUBJECT: HAVE WE LOST THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN: DO WE CARE

Classified By: AMB MARY KRAMER FOR REASONS 1.4 (b), (d)



1. SUMMARY: (C) Public positions and policies taken by
Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts
and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines )
the seven nation states of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) )
appear to be diametrically opposed to those of the USG. Yet,
private conversations with EC leaders, including elected
officials, reveal a longing for a more visible, robust
engagement in the region by the USG and a return to the days
of the post-colonial/Cold War period when leaders and
ordinary citizens in the region viewed the U.S. as a good and
effective agent for change, both regionally and globally.
Today, some leaders complain that the USG does not reward
their support and imposes undue burdens on small and fragile
economies. All leaders express regret that their views are
not sought and there is no forum whereby USG-regional
consultations can be conducted. The lack of fora contrasts
sharply with the regularly scheduled meetings with the EU,
UK, Commonwealth, Cuba and Venezuela. END SUMMARY.



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ISLAND INSULARITY


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2. (C) The leaders of EC nations are profoundly insular, in
spite of frequent travel and participation in multilateral
fora. Each island regards itself as unique and entitled to
special treatment, particularly by the USG, in such areas as
integration into the global economy and the immigration (and
deportation) of its citizens. No elected leader believes he
should play any role in improving or restoring the bilateral
relationship with the United States. This is seen as the
sole responsibility of the USG. There is a strong regional
perception that if the USG does not take all the steps
necessary to improve ties, it is a clear signal that the USG
is no longer interested in any relationship at all.



3. (C) Extremely conscious of the status of office, EC
leaders warmly welcome visits from their counterparts from
Taiwan, Venezuela, and Cuba, publicly lauding the time spent
by visitors in country nearly as much as the aid or
assistance announced during the well-publicized visits.
Memories of the golden days of strong engagement with the USG
are fond, but fading: such memories cannot compete with the
reality of dollar diplomacy being played by China, Taiwan,
Cuba, Venezuela, Japan (targeting countries on the
International Whaling Commission), and even Mexico (during
the 2005 contests for OAS Secretary General and Assistant
Secretary General). As time passes and younger leaders come

SIPDIS
to power, it becomes more difficult to persuade EC leadership
to support USG positions and initiatives. The EC leaders do

not perceive any &win8 for them by supporting the USG; at
times, they see the opposite.



4. C) Recent votes in the UN and the OAS show a reluctance by
CARICOM member states in general, and the EC in particular,
to break from the CARICOM consensus and criticize violators
of human rights or international treaties. EC leaders
piously cite quote principled stands unquote for failure to
censure other nations, even those with whom they have no
diplomatic relations or historic ties, in the belief that
engagement rather than censure will somehow reverse egregious
violations of human rights. Currently, the EC uses its votes
to leverage what is important to them (aid and assistance)
rather than supporting the promotion of liberty, peacekeeping
operations, universal human rights, respect for the rule of
law, and free trade as a mechanism to create employment and
advance national development. It is possible that behind
this rhetoric, there is a calculation that not standing with
the USG carries no penalty or loss, whereas standing up to
Cuba, Venezuela, China, or other nations could result in
punitive actions endangering perceived EC national or
regional interests.



5. (C) CARICOM,s unshakeable insistence on consensus
decision-making is painstakingly slow and means that even one
EC state can block a decision and thwart action. The
Westminster parliamentary model followed by the EC means that
only the Prime Minister can make final decisions. Because of
small populations (Barbados with 270,000 is the largest; St.
Kitts with 47,000 the smallest) there are only a handful of
trusted aides to research issues and produce background
information. It is not unusual for a Prime Minister to take
personal responsibility for something that in a larger nation
would be resolved by a mayor, town council or mid-level
Ministry official. EC Prime Ministers, and members of their
Cabinets, believe the same situation applies in the US. A
frequent refrain in meetings with senior leadership is that a
meeting between a particular Prime Minister and the President
would instantly resolve all the bilateral problems, large and
small. (COMMENT: There is a tendency among EC leadership to
mistake meetings for action. END COMMENT.)



--------------------------



--------------------------


80S ) 90S: THE SLOW DECLINE; 2000 ) 2005; THE PRECIPITIOUS
DECLINE


--------------------------



--------------------------





6. (U) Until the 1970s, there were still small, but visible,
U.S. Navy installations dotted throughout the region,
vestiges of the maritime era when the Caribbean was a vital
shipping lane for the US. In Barbados and St. Lucia, people
still talk of long-closed U.S. Naval Air Stations. Following
the departures of the U.S. Navy outposts came the closure of
the U.S. Embassy in Antigua and the U.S. Consulate in
Martinique, along with the downsizing of the U.S. Embassy in
Grenada (opened after the 1983 US-led intervention). In the
past decade, Embassy Bridgetown saw the departure of a
full-sized USAID mission, followed by the reopening of a
satellite office of USAID Jamaica, the departure of the
Defense Attaches (DAO) and the Technical Assistance Team
(TAT), and the elimination of USG support for the Regional
Security System (RSS) Air Wing.



--------------------------


WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN BACK THE EC?


--------------------------





7. (C) Wooing back the EC will take time, attention from
senior USG leadership, and more money for the region.
However, a modest amount of money can be used very
effectively in the region and may increase our influence
bilaterally and in multilateral fora. (COMMENT: It should
be noted that almost USD 50 million in post-Hurricane Ivan
disaster relief and reconstruction funds were not sufficient
to persuade Grenada to support our candidates for OAS
Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General. END

SIPDIS
COMMENT.)



8. (C) One possible step forward would be to announce during
the meeting with the Secretary and her CARICOM counterparts
in Nassau that such meetings will occur on a regular basis
(either biennially as with the UK/CARICOM consultation or the
triennial Cuba/CARICOM meeting).



9. (C) Another would be restoration of funding for the RSS
C-26 program with strict agreement on cost-sharing among the
US, RSS member states, and like-minded countries (e.g., JIATF
participants such as the UK, Canada, France, the Netherlands).



10. (C) Restoration of Fulbright and other scholarship
exchanges to U.S. tertiary institutions is highly desired.
Such scholarships have a positive impact as demonstrated by
the numbers of U.S. alumni in leadership positions in
government and the private sector throughout the region.



11. (C) Creation and funding of a rapid response corps of
technical experts, from both the USG and academia, who can
deploy to the region in response to targets of opportunity or
requests for assistance by local governments (e.g., after the
destruction of Barbados sole prison by fire in April 2005, we
were able to bring in a team of U.S. Army temporary detention
specialists to advise the GOB).



12. (C) Mission Bridgetown is in a unique position as it is
responsible for diplomatic relations with seven nations,
albeit, micro-states. Recognizing the realities of current
diplomacy, we believe that a modest investment of time (with
senior Washington officials) and money (to support regional
institutions and bilateral exchanges) will result in medium
and long-term benefits to the U.S. national interest.
KRAMER