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US Secretary of State arrives in Jamaica today; CARICOM members split on visit

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Jamaica today amid growing concerns by some that the mission is aimed at dividing CARICOM’s members.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: New York Times)

Pompeo’s two-day visit includes a slate of meetings that will see him engage in talks with Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness and a sit-down with regional officials.

Details of the visit remain sparse but it is anticipated that he will raise issues related to regional trading partner, Venezuela and its president Nicolás Maduro, who the US does not recognise as its leader.

“We are very much in support of and identify with the sentiments expressed by the CARICOM Chair, PM Mottley of Barbados. As a government, we stand in support of this position.”

– Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Minister, E.P Chet Green

It is also expected that Holness will present the topic of visa cancellations for several Jamaicans, including Cabinet Minister Daryl Vaz, in recent month.

At least three CARICOM nations have indicated their discontent with the meeting which only includes select members of the regional bodies.

The Caribbean Media Corporation yesterday reported that Antigua and Barbuda expressed its support of Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley to not send a representative to the meeting.

The Caribbean Community

At a gala to honour former Barbadian Prime Minister Earl Barrow on the weekend, Mottley said “as chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my Foreign Minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region.”

In showing support, Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Minister E.P Chet Green said “We are very much in support of and identify with the sentiments expressed by the CARICOM Chair, PM Mottley of Barbados. As a government, we stand in support of this position.”

Prime Minister of Barbados and CARICOM Chair, Mia Mottley

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also issued a statement Monday, in which he said Mottley “full support of the government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago in outlining our principles and vision of Caribbean unity.”

Pompeo is expected to meet with foreign ministers of the Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, St Kitts-Nevis and St Lucia. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, visited the island approximately two years ago to meet with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

At the time, issues related to strengthening security cooperation to fight transnational organised crime and boosting the island’s economic partnership with the North American nation took centrestage. Additionally, opportunities to widen the engagement with the wider CARICOM, energy security, the vulnerability of middle-income economies, climatic events and de-risking and correspondent banking issues were also discussed.