The US State Department, in announcing the visit to Jamaica and several other countries in the hemisphere last week, said Secretary Tillerson will seek to promote a safe, prosperous, energy secure, and democratic hemisphere and advocate for increased regional attention to the crisis in Venezuela.
The State Department has said the trip is centered on the “crisis in Venezuela,” where the United States has imposed financial sanctions in an attempt to spur democratic change. But many are more focused on Tillerson's visit to Mexico and its potential impact on ongoing debate over NAFTA.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch of a book by Ambassador Richard Bernal entitled “The Influence Of Small States On Superpowers:Jamaica And U.S. Foreign Policy,” at the UWI, Mr. Patterson, observed that "every nation in its exercise of sovereignty is obliged to formulate and execute foreign policy in accordance with its own enlightened self interest.”
“We cannot win the war against crime and violence or the fight against illegal narcotics and money laundering unless those who manufacture the weapons of destruction prohibit and enforce the curbs for the export of guns and bullets to our shores,” he said.
The former Jamaican prime minister pointed out that “our efforts to achieve stated and desirable targets for prosperity will be severely impeded and derailed by the devastating effects of climate change and global warming which have created such havoc to the islands of the Caribbean and several states on the American mainland.”
The Donald Trump administration has reversed the United States' position on climate change and has backed out of world initiatives to fight effects of global warming.
The former Prime Minister added that Jamaica should also make clear its disgust with a recent statement by US President Donald Trump concerning Haiti and African countries, characterizing them as “a…hole” countries. Mr. Patterson noted that “a beration of our brothers and sisters in Haiti and the African continent is offensive, repulsive. We renounce any form of rhetoric which is divisive,” he declared.
In speaking to Ambassador Bernal’s book, Mr. Patterson said “Jamaica has a tradition of resistance to hegemony, which has its origins in the long history of fighting against oppression in the forms of slavery and colonialism.
He observed that "this has given rise to an audacity that is uniquely Jamaican and that imbues the behaviour of individuals, organizations and the society as a whole.“
Hence, "assertiveness and feistiness are expected of the Government by the Jamaican public in handling international relations, especially in standing up to larger, more powerful states that appear to be taking advantage of us” – or insensitive to our interests and global concerns,” Patterson pointed out.
The former Prime Minister, in an oblique reference to Jamaica abstaining in the UN vote in relation to the relocation of the israely capitol, observed that “We have never reaped any substantial or lasting benefits from groveling or genuflection. We have won when Jamaica has united to pursue a common cause by providing leadership at the political, diplomatic and technical levels for CARICOM, the OAS, UN, Non-Aligned and the Commonwealth. This is no time to abdicate leadership or change course.”
“So when Jamaica abstains on a resolution to which four Permanent Members of the Security Council and a total of 129 nations subscribe, the non-aligned world will question whether we have lost our sense of international morality,” Patterson lamented.
“The Jamaican people deserve some explanation from their Government and are entitled to ask why. Certainly, it cannot be, as former Prime Minister Bruce Golding has enquired, that Jamaica cowered because of the veiled threat to reduce U.S. aid.”
What would we do if the countries of the EU were to threaten reprisal whenever we voted contrary to their position in the international arena?
“If we are now open to every bidder, have we calculated the accumulated inflows from Venezuela’s PetroCaribe or the current levels of investment from the Peoples Republic of China? We cannot dance to the beat of different drums when hallowed precedents suggest we should not abandon sound principle!!
“Bernal’s book reminds us that foreign policy must be strategic. We cannot afford a short-sighted approach; one based on a blur of temporary convenience or sheer expediency,” Patterson concluded.
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