AS IF the many pressing social and economic problems they continue to face are not enough, there came the wrath of ‚ÄėHurricane Sandy‚Äô on Wednesday to add further misery to the people of Jamaica and Cuba.
While their economic and political systems are different, the citizens of both Cuba and Jamaica are respected for their resilience in overcoming¬†disasters. They would also be aware that comparatively humble as it may be, they can at least be assured of practical forms of assistance that normally flow across this region when fellow Caribbean partner states are afflicted by natural disasters.
Encouragingly, both Jamaica and Cuba have proud records of assistance rushed to Caribbean and other nations seriously afflicted by either hurricanes, earthquakes or other major disasters
However, the focus of today‚Äôs column relates to next week‚Äôs United States presidential election and, more specifically, the live, televised debates between the incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney for tenancy at The White House. In the case of Obama, the race is for a second four-year contract.
With the conclusion last Monday of the third and final presidential debate, some well-meaning telephone callers, among them my professional colleagues, were to express surprise at the absence of any reference to the Caribbean Region by both President Obama and his opponent, Romney.
Put that down to perhaps a little disappointment¬†more than serious surprise. After all, the Greater Caribbean Region in general, and not just our comparatively small segment, has long lost its U.S.-induced concept ¬†as a ‚Äúvital ideological/security bridge‚ÄĚ between the two Americas (north and south). ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
Two related primary factors that help to explain this would be the disappearance of the old Soviet Union as a superpower and subsequent recurring adjustments by successive Washington administrations in coping with the painful reality of half a century of failures to dislodge the Cuban Communist Party from control of state power in Havana
A defiant Cuba -- the small Caribbean nation that our CARICOM patch of the Greater Caribbean had significantly contributed to ending its diplomatic isolation imposed by ‚ÄėUncle Sam‚Äô -- has always been a factor of relevance in U.S. foreign policy for Western Hemisphere nations.
From President John F. Kennedy‚Äôs ‚ÄėAlliance for Progress‚Äô in the 1960s, and President Ronald Reagan‚Äôs ‚ÄėCaribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act‚Äô (better known as the ‚ÄėCBI‚Äô)in the 1980s, to George W Bush‚Äôs so-called ‚ÄėThird Border Initiative‚Äô (TBI), the countering of Castro-led Cuban influence in the Caribbean has always been an obsession that determined aid and trade considerations by the tenant in The White House, Democrat or Republican.
For the Obama/Romney debates on U.S. foreign policy, the ‚ÄėCaribbean Region‚Äô was nonexistent in the final round that was dominated by U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recurring problems in the Middle East, with both locked in a sort of pathetic competition to show loyalty to Israel and punishment for Iran.
Even after Obama had referred to threats to America‚Äôs national security from international terrorist networks as a major priority for his administration, in contrast to Romney‚Äôs obsession with Iran, neither bothered to allude to ¬†the ghastly human tragedies and social and economic consequences of the worsening ‚Äėdrug war‚Äô in this hemisphere, and in particular for a vital border neighbour like Mexico. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
As some media commentators were left to observe, Latin America as a whole was ‚Äúsimply ignored.‚ÄĚ In that context, therefore, the Caribbean region was a ‚Äėnon-starter‚Äô for mention, either by the incumbent or aspiring tenant for the White House. ¬†Yet, for what it may be worth, and without having a vote, I declare a clear preference for a second-term Obama presidency.
As the first African-American to be President of the United States, it would be a great pity should he fall victim to the ‚Äėred meat‚Äô politics of the influential ‚ÄėTea Party Republicans‚Äô¬†by being restricted -- like three other former Presidents since the end of the second World War --to serving just one term.
Among the trio of one-term Presidents was Jimmy Carter, whose credibility as a fervent, eloquent advocate for human rights and democratic governance, and in combating poverty remains intact.
Carter continues to remind successive Democratic and Republican administrations in Washington of ‚ÄúAmerica‚Äôs moral crisis‚ÄĚ as located in his ¬†book, ‚ÄėOur Endangered Values‚Äô, which offers his assessment of ‚Äúthe distortion of American foreign policy,‚ÄĚ and explains much of the ¬†problems the USA encounters ¬†with nations of the world, not ¬†just the Caribbean/Latin America Region.
At this time, as Obama continues to face the political onslaught from the strong and influential right-wing forces of Romney‚Äôs Republican Party, the fluctuating polls are increasingly sending mixed messages with a defiance to his ‚ÄúAudacity of Hope‚ÄĚ for a second four-year term.