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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BRIDGETOWN1098
2007-08-29 17:46:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR OURISMAN'S VISIT TO ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Tags:   ASEC  CVIS  PGOV  PREL  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #1098/01 2411746
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291746Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5342
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001098 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHA/CAR FOR ALAIN NORMAN
EEB/TPP/MTA FOR ELIZA KOCH
L/CID FOR MARGUERITE WALTER
USAID/LAC/CAR FOR ROBERT BONCY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2017
TAGS: ASEC CVIS PGOV PREL XL
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR OURISMAN'S VISIT TO ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Classified By: CDA Clyde I. Howard for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

Summary
-------



1. (SBU) Ambassador Ourisman traveled to Antigua and Barbuda
August 15-16, 2007, with Embassy Bridgetown USAID Director
for the Eastern Caribbean and the Regional Security Officer.
The Ambassador met privately with Prime Minister Baldwin
Spencer, as well as Minister of Health, John Maginley. The
Ambassador toured USAID's technical assistance programs and
facilities, and launched the Antigua Business Investment
Authority, the product of USAID assistance. Over 200 guests,
including the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and
Economy, and members of the diplomatic community and the
private sector attended this launch. The Ambassador also
presented the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force with
explosive countermeasures equipment donated by the
Department's Antiterrorism Assistance Program. End Summary.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer


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





2. (C) In a bilateral meeting, Ambassador Ourisman and Prime
Minister Spencer discussed USG technical cooperation, the
June Caribbean Conference in Washington, deportees,
September's United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and both
the Internet gaming and Half Moon Bay expropriation disputes.
Attending the meeting from the Government of Antigua and
Barbuda (GOAB) were Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Permanent
Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and GOAB

SIPDIS
Ambassador to Japan, Anthony Liverpool.



3. (C) USG ASSISTANCE: PM Spencer expressed appreciation for
USAID's generous assistance with trade and investment
capacity issues, noting that it was a demonstrable way of
deepening the friendship between the United States and
Antigua and Barbuda, as well as helping his country improve
the investment climate and respond to new trade challenges.
Ambassador Ourisman described USAID's support to the Antigua
and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) as a people-to-people
endeavor, which is helping Antigua and Barbuda become more
competitive in the global market. The Ambassador also
informed PM Spencer that she would also be donating $39,000
worth of bomb disposal equipment and related police training.
The Ambassador reminded the Prime Minister of the USG's
generous assistance with security and law enforcement in the
region, specifically noting the dvanced Passenger
Information System (APIS). PM Spencer agreed APIS was very
effective, especially for Cricket World Cup, and stated it
will leave a significant and permanent legacy.



4. (C) DEPORTEES: PM Spencer congratulated the Ambassador
for a successful Washington Caribbean Conference and
expressed his excitement about the new direction of the
U.S.-CARICOM partnership. The Prime Minister conveyed his

satisfaction with the straightforward and candid approach to
important issues that affected the Caribbean, among them the
issue of deportees. PM Spencer admitted that he fully
understands the rationale behind USG deportee policy, but
insisted on more information sharing and suggested the
creation of a deportee database and the provision of
"tangible" USG assistance for deportee re-integration. The
Ambassador informed PM Spencer that USG statistics on
deportees commonly disagree with numbers generated in the
Caribbean. She also described the pilot deportee project in
Haiti and explained that President Bush and Secretary Rice
carefully listened to the Caribbean's concerns on the topic.
PM Spencer told the Ambassador that these were clear steps in
the right direction and suggested that the pilot project be
spread throughout CARICOM and that information on deportees
should be more easily available to affected governments,
possibly in the form of a database.



5. (C) INTERNET GAMING: PM Spencer claimed that Internet
gaming is an important economic niche with significant
benefits that is now in serious jeopardy as a result of the
USG's invoking Article 21. PM Spencer expressed that the
GOAB is prepared to look at the issues raised by the USG and
find a solution based on "some modalities" which he believes
will create a "win-win" situation for both countries. PM
Spencer noted that the WTO regulatory body will soon act, and
that a serious dialogue is needed to prevent both parties
from moving in their own directions. PM Spencer shared his
belief that an Internet gaming sector can exist that both
takes into account USG concerns and meets international
regulatory standards. The Ambassador responded that every
U.S. state has its own regulations for gambling, but that
Congressional legislation does not allow for cross-border
Internet gambling for important moral reasons. The
Ambassador told PM Spencer that the United States accepts the
WTO ruling and understands the GOAB's concerns as well, but
will continue to work within WTO guidelines and U.S.
legislation. PM Spencer pressed further with his plea for
dialogue and the Ambassador promised to convey his concerns
to Washington.



6. (C) HALF MOON BAY: The Ambassador raised the
expropriation issue of Half Moon Bay and compensation for the
Amcit owners. She noted that since the Privy Council ruled
in favor of the GOAB's expropriation of the property, the
government must now determine and provide adequate
compensation to the owner. PM Spencer responded that, in
accordance with Antiguan law, the GOAB has initiated property
valuation and that the next step is for the American party to
conduct its own valuation. Both parties can then negotiate
an acceptable solution with the assistance of a formal
arbitration board if necessary. PM Spencer assured the
Ambassador that it is not in the GOAB's interest to further
prolong the dispute and promised that it would not
procrastinate, as it has already received offers from over 15
investors. He added that he does not see any major hurdles
ahead in resolving the issue once and for all.

Donation of Explosive Countermeasure Equipment


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

-



7. (U) The Ambassador officially presented USD 39,000 worth
of explosive countermeasure equipment to the Antigua and
Barbuda Royal Police Force (ABRPF). The equipment was
purchased by the Department's Antiterrorism Assistance
Program (ATA). The equipment included a bomb suit, disrupter
kit, water canon, ammunition, and bomb technician tools.
Embassy Bridgetown RSO explained the technical details of the
equipment to the media. As a result of the DS/ATA-donated
bomb technician equipment and previous DS/ATA-provided
training, Antigua and Barbuda will have the necessary
technical expertise to identify, assess, locate, neutralize,
and dispose of explosive devices.

Minister of Health John H. Maginley


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





8. (C) Ambassador Ourisman focused on HIV/AIDS in Antigua and
Barbuda in a meeting with Minister of Health John Maginley.
Maginley outlined the effects of HIV/AIDS on Antigua and
Barbuda, particularly emphasizing the immigrants from
countries with significant HIV/AIDSproblems, such as the
Dominican Republic and Guyna. Maginley noted that many
non-residents cometo Antigua and Barbuda because it is one
of the ew CARICOM countries, alng with Barbados, that
ofers free and universal care for HIV/AIDS patients
Maginley conveyed his frustration that a signifcant portion
of international donor funding for IV/AIDS is allocated to
plicy work, conferences, and travel, with relatively little
allocated to on-the-ground assistance to individuals living
with, affected by, or exposed to HIV/AIDS. Maginley noted,
however, that USAID's HIV/AIDS work with the International
HIV/AIDS Alliance is an exception and praised USAID for
properly identifying and reaching out to the most vulnerable
populations and providing preventive information and
referrals. Minister Maginley also voiced his concern that
Antigua and Barbuda's modest stock of trained nurses continue
to migrate to the United States and other countries, further
depleting the population of trained health care providers in
Antigua and Barbuda.

Ambassador Site Visit to USAID Programs and Facilities


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



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





9. (U) The Ambassador visited staff of the International
HIV/AIDS Alliance (IHAA), USAID's implementation partner,
where she was briefed on the HIV/AIDS situation in Antigua
and Barbuda, more specifically the dynamics of social norms,
personal behavior, and the effects of stigma and
discrimination. The Ambassador also visited USAID's
environmental and biodiversity programs, which include
technical assistance to the GOAB's Department of Fisheries.

This assistance is for protecting Antigua's few remaining
mangrove forests and assisting the GOAB to develop a
management plan for Codrington Lagoon, which was recently
designated a national park.

Ambassador Launch of ABIA


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





10. (U) The highlight of the trip was the Ambassador's
launching of the official opening of the Antigua and Barbuda
Investment Authority (ABIA). (Note: The establishment of
the ABIA has been a major deliverable of USAID's Caribbean
Open Trade Support project, which provided the Ministry of
Finance and Economy training, strategic planning, and
institutional capacity building. End Note.) Over 200 people
attended the ceremony, including PM Spencer and Minister of
Finance and Economy, Dr. Errol Cort, as well as Cabinet and
Parliamentary members, members of the diplomatic community,
high-ranking government officials, and prominent members of
the local and international business community. In his
keynote address, Minister Cort explicitly recognized and

thanked the USG for its support of the ABIA, characterizing
it as a "practical and demonstrable expression of USG support
for Antigua and Barbuda." In her remarks, the Ambassador
noted the necessity of small economies such as that of
Antigua and Barbuda to become more open to foreign investment
and better able to compete in an open international trading
regime.

Comment: Benefits of the Caribbean Conference


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

-



11. (C) Because of Half Moon Bay and the Internet gambling
dispute, Antigua and Barbuda is arguably the Eastern
Caribbean country with the most pressing disagreements with
the United States currently. However, thanks to the June
Conference on the Caribbean and the strengthened good will
between the United States and the Eastern Caribbean it
created, the Ambassador and her counterparts were able to
focus on the positive aspects of the U.S.-Antigua/Barbuda
relationship, namely the various facets of USG foreign
assistance to Antigua. Although contentious issues did
arise, the environment for these meetings was much more
positive than would have been the case without the Conference.
HOWARD