Monday, April 15, 2024

Questions for Caricom after Biden, Xi visits

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NOW THAT United States Vice-president Joseph Biden and China’s President Xi Linping have completed their respective missions to engage Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partner states – via separate meetings in Port of Spain, Trinidad – it is of relevance to raise questions on two important issues not publicly mentioned.
In contrast to their various statements on trade and aid matters, CARICOM leaders were quite silent on, for instance, the current controversial issues of hemispheric and global interest as they pertain to this region’s relations with the United States.
First, the killing of civilians by employing unmanned drone aircraft in Washington’s declared campaign against suspected international “terrorists”.
Secondly, the gross and inhumane misuse of Guantanamo Bay – which is part of Cuban territory – as a vast prison camp where alleged terrorists remain in detention without court trials since the infamous terrorist bombing strikes unleashed on America on September 11, 2001.
However, while we expectantly await fulfilment of promised improved trade, aid and economic investment from the United States – consistent with the framework accord signed with Biden – the public silence by CARICOM on “drone killings” deserves engagement by established institutions and organizations that believe in the rule of law.
The “drones politics” relate to Washington’s highly controversial policy of unmanned drone surveillance that is resulting in multiple indiscriminate deaths of innocent civilians – and not just in current war zones.
And there remains failure by the Obama administration to shut down, as promised since his first term, Guantanamo Bay as a detention centre for political prisoners without trial.
Since both issues have to do with the rule of law in civilized societies – and to which all CARICOM states seek to adhere – then it’s high time for the governments and representative institutions and agencies of our Community to stand up and be counted.  
Such indiscriminate killing of civilians alleged to be “terrorists”, without involving a court of law, could be viewed as acts of murder by the state.
Against this scenario, it is relevant to ask what specific development has led to CARICOM’s “agreement” with Washington a year ago to facilitate America’s use of unmanned drones in the Caribbean to better combat narco-trafficking.
Surely our governments cannot be unmindful of the controversies resulting from claimed previous “errors” by the United States Coast Guard service that made necessary what came to be known as The Shiprider Agreement.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist; rickeysingh2000@gmail.com.

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