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Sir Ronald Sanders (front centre) as President of thr OAS Permanent Council at better times

 
OAS: Handmaiden to the tyranny of a minority
By Sir Ronald Sanders
 
There have been many ignominious moments at the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) and many farcical decisions made, but they pale in significance when compared with the events of Wednesday, 11 September 2019.

On that day 11 countries, accompanied by the illegitimate representative of the self-proclaimed “Interim President” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, adopted a resolution opening the possibility of invading the sovereign territory of Venezuela with the obvious intention of achieving their self-interested goal of toppling the government of Nicolás Maduro.

The ridiculousness of the proceedings at the OAS Permanent Council is that 16 of the legitimate 33 member states of the Organization had no vote in the resolution because they are not signatories of The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Treaty) under which the dangerous resolution was invoked and adopted.  By a previously absurd decision, in 1975, 21 then signatory countries of the Rio Treaty decided to make the OAS Permanent Council the body in which matters related to the Treaty would be discussed.

At that time, only two CARICOM countries were signatories to the Treaty, namely Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago.  A third CARICOM country, the Bahamas, did not join until 1982.  No CARICOM country has joined since.  Canada, a big player in the OAS, is also not a signatory.

The actual number of signatory states is now 17, although farcically, the register still shows the membership as 19 with Cuba and Venezuela as signatory states.  Cuba withdrew from the OAS and, informally, from all hemispheric bodies in 1962 and Venezuela formally withdrew in 2013.  It would have been interesting to see what the present signatory countries would have done had Cuba sent a representative to the meeting. Another four of the original members of the Rio Treaty have also “denounced” it, withdrawing from membership.  These countries are: Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Nicaragua.

In the event, 10 signatory states of the Rio Treaty and Juan Guaidó’s improperly seated OAS representative, proposed a resolution, arising from this anachronistic 1947 Treaty for adoption at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS. 

The objective of the resolution was clearly set out in an accompanying notice.  It claimed, without any supporting evidence, that “a series of developments and situations, which are as a consequence of the Venezuelan crisis, pose a threat to peace in the Americas and [-} affect the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of various American states”. Spuriously it went on to say: “It is for that reason that measures need to be adopted by the member states of the (Rio Treaty) based on the principles of inter-American solidarity and cooperation established in said instrument”.

Venezuela was thereby set-up for “measures” that would be agreed by a two-thirds vote of the Foreign Ministers of the claimed 19 signatory countries at a meeting to be held “in the second half of September 2019” when they will be attending the UN General Assembly in New York.  The measures include: establishing a naval and aerial blockade of Venezuela or using military force.

If there was any doubt that the 10 governments plus Guaidó’s representative had anything but military force in mind, that doubt disappeared when, by virtue of their simple majority of the claimed 19 signatories, they spurned an amendment from Costa Rica which proposed that any “measures” would exclude “those that may involve the use of armed force”. 

So, clearly, armed force is very much in the collective minds of the 11 governments plus Guaidó’s representative that eventually pushed through the resolution.  The 11 governments are the original 10 proposers of the resolution Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and the United States of America, plus Chile that voted with them.
Alarmingly – and ludicrously – the resolution was adopted in the name of the Permanent Council of the OAS, even through 15 member states have no connection with the Rio Treaty and could not vote, and 5 of the signatory states did not support it.   The latter states are: Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago.  Bahamas, which is a member state, was absent.

Sadly, governments of countries, which have been the victims of invasion, supported this resolution which, in the words of the Mexican Ambassador, Luz Elena Baños Rivas, “inextricably entails the possibility of the use of force [-} and is contrary to international law”.  Among these is the government of Haiti, a CARICOM member state.

At some point soon, CARICOM itself will have to consider whether its member states have breached undertakings in its own treaty and whether they should abandon any effort to achieve a common foreign policy.  Failure to deal definitively with this situation would ruin CARICOM’s greatest strength – its 14 votes pooled in unison.

The 1947 Rio Treaty emerged in the context of a world that had just emerged from World War II.   It was a world in which CARICOM countries, except for Haiti, were all colonies as were most countries of Asia, Africa and the Pacific.   The United States was the rising, but dominant, power of the Americas, and Canada was still a dominion of the British Crown.  Cuba was in thrall to mafia outfits from the US, and Latin American countries were ruled by undemocratic juntas for the most part.

It is nothing short of shameful that a handful of countries would invoke a 72-year old, outdated treaty in today’s world to try to accomplish the crushing of a government they dislike.  Today, Venezuela; tomorrow who, and to serve whose interests?

Equally, it continues to be deeply disturbing that, at the OAS, a minority of states make and impose decisions that wreck the organization’s institutional foundations and reduces it to a weapon for the interests of a few.

Peace and security is increasingly endangered in the hemisphere, as are the purposes of the OAS as set out in the obligations of its Charter to achieve an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.

Latest News in Pictures

Signing agreements for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, DC on 24 July 2019.  The agreemenst were signed by the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders (sitting right) and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Citaku (sitting left). Frymezin Isufaj and Joy-Dee Davis. Ministers Coundellor (standing left to right)

 

 Speaking at US Capitol Hill in behalf of CARICOM during Caribbean Legislative Week on 5 June 2019

 

Meeting Wesley Kirton Co-Chair Caribbean Studies Associaton, US, and Captain Gerry Gouveia of the Guyana Privat Sector at Antigua and Barbuda Embassy, Washington, DC on 4 June 2019

 

On 15 May, 2019 with the formidable US Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is Chair of the Financail Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.  I had presentred the case against de-risking, withdrawal of correspondent banking relations and blacklisting alone with CARICOM Ministers of National Security. 

 

 Testifying on 14th May, 2019 before the US International Trade Commission on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and Caribbaean States on the perennial US trade surplus with the region which reached $7 Billion in 2018. 

 

Sir Ronald at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking trade and other relations between the US and CARICOM countries, especially Antigua and Barbuda, with Cingressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) on  27 February 2019.

 

Caribbean Ambassadors in Washington with US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Kim Breier, at the US State Department. Sir Ronald third from right in January 2019. 

 

In July 2018, while in Ottawa for Antigua and Barbuda bilateral talks with Canadian government officials, Sir Ron ran into old and repected friend, Joe Clarke - former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Canada and a great warrior in the anti-apartheid struggle.

 

With Ambassador Jesus Silvera of Panama, receiving a donation to the rebuilding of Barbuda, June 2018

 

With OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, on 6 June 2018, signing the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and  Related Forms of Intolerance.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first signatory to the Convention and the second country to ratify the Convention. 
 

 Signing ceremony in Washington, DC of Abolition of Visa Requirements between Ukraine and Antigua and Barbuda in May 2018.  Ukraine Amnbasador (left) and Joy-Dee Davis, Minister Counsellor, Antigua and Barbuda Embassy (right) 

 

 With Governor-General of Canada,Her Excellency Julie Payette, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 30th 2018.  In addition to beeing accredited to Canada as High Commissioner, I have the honour of sharing the distinction with this amazing former Astronaut of being a Senior Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

 

In Tobago after delivering feature address at The Tobago Finance week on 13 November 2017.  Photo shows, Economist Terrence Farrell, Sir Ronald, Tobago Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, and Anthony Pierre, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Chartered Accountants

 

 In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad speaking at the annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago on 9 November 2017

 

 Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, prior to appearnace at the World Trade Organisation on Antigua and Barbuda's contention with the US government on the WTO award to Antigua over Internet Gaming, September 2017 

 

 Speaking on Refugees resulting from Climate Change and the growing danger to small island states at an event organised by OXFAM in Washington, DC on 30 October 2017. (Heather Coleman, OXFAM; Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda; Selwyn Hart (Barbados), Lisa Friedman, New York Times)

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.  He was talking about the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma and the remedies for Climate Change and Global Warming.  To his left are:  The Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and St Lucia Prime Minister Alan Chastanet

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the security and other threats posed to the Caribbean and the Hemisphere of Climate Change and Global Warming on 13 September 2017

 

 Sir Ronald (third right) with senior officers of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, DC after discussing what assistance could be given in the clean up and rebuilding of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma (Friday, 15 September 2017)

 

With US Congressman, Ranking member of Committee on Foreign Affairs at Capitol Hill on 14 September, discussiing secutty matters, Hurricane Irma and Barbuda and the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues.  Very helpful.

 

 With US Congressman Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill talking the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues, and the effets of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda on 12 September, 2017.  Good man. 

 

 Talking to the Emergency Agencies of the OAS about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda and seeking assistance on 14 September 2017

 

Sir Ronald with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on 28 August 2017 discussing Canada-Antigua and Barbuda bilateral matters.

 

Sir Ronald with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States in Cancun, in June 2017

 

Heads of Delegations to the OAS General Assembly in Cancun.  Mexican Presdident, sixth from right, front row.  Sir Ronald fourth from right, front row.

 

Meeting of Consulation on the situation in Venezuela at the Organisation of American States on 31 May 2017 Sir Ronald (far right).

 

With Texas Congressman Randy Weber at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking energy, water and US-Antigua and Barbuda relations on Wednesday 5 April, 2017 

 

 

With my colleague Argentine Ambassador to the OAS, Juan Jose Acuri (right) and the Argentina candidate for election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rigjts Dr Carlos de Casas on 29 March 2016

 

 At the International Monetary Fund with Exceutive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, Nancy Horsman, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

At the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy receiving Antonia Urrejola, the candidate of Chile for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, on 23 March 2017 

 

 With the Mexican Candidate for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernadez Garcia, on 21 March 2017

 

 At the World Bank on20 March 2017 meeting Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, to talk about Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

With Joe Barton, US Congressman from the State of Texas in his Office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 16 March 2017 discussing US-Antigua and Barbuda relations

 

Hosting a meeting at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Washington, DC of diplomatic representatives of St Lucia (Ambassador Anton Edmunds, St Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Thelma Phillip-Browne and St Vincent Deputy Chief of Mission Omari Williams)

 

Meeting the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cabanas Rodriguez at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

 

With the Ambassador of Ecudaor to the United States, Francisco Borja Cevallos, talking Ecuador-Antigua and Barbuda relations on 13 February 2017

 

 With US Congressman Gus Bilikakis (Dem,Fl) for talls on Caiptol Hill in Washington

 

With Charlie Crist, US Congressman (Dem, Fl) for discussions on US-Antigua and Barbuda matters

 

 With US Senator Jeff Duncan, Chair Foreign Relations Committee talking energy and Citizenship by Investement Programmes in the Caribbean

 

 With Professor Louis Gates Jr at the Smithsonian National Musuem of African American History in Washington, DC after an evening of enlightening presentations on the neglected story of the building of the US 

Videos of historic Rastafarian occasion at the OAS on 14 May 2018

The You Tube Video below is the historic occasion at the Permanent Delegation of the Organisation of American States (OAS) when Antigua and Barbuda led the way in aplogising for the wrongs done to the Rastafarian community of the Caribbean. It was the first time that a representavive of the Rastafarian community addressed a high-level inter-governmental body.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR-In_q1dR8&feature=youtu.be
 

Another You Tube Video is the Report to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April 2018 on the Antigua and Barbuda General Elections of March 21.   See video of the report on You Tube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFm3Y_AzTxE

 

Sir Ronald Statements at the OAS

Two statements made at the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April, 2018 have been posted in the "Lectures" section.    The statements are on:  The Guatemala Referendum authorising the Government to take the border dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice; and a Report on the General Elections held in Antigua and Barbuda on 21 March, 2018.

TV Interviews in the US

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) carried two programmes, coast-to-coast on 23 stations in the US on the Caribbean, featuring interviews with three Caribbean Ambassadors including Sir Ron.   The YouTube links to the programmes are below:

PART ONE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPWd8qSRdTY&feature=youtu.be

PART TWO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtjZgRC9rU&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

 

The TV Network CSPAN interviewed Sir Ronald in a cost-to-coast boadcast on the effects of Hurricanes and other matters related to Antigua and Barbuda.   The link to the interview is below:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?434242-3/washington-journal-ronald-sanders-discusses-impact-irma-antigua-barbuda


All posts...

Election for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General

Sir Ronald was a candidate for election to the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General In November 2015 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. View further details here.

Portrait of Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is currently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

Welcome

Welcome to this website. I created it in 2009 in response to many requests for access to commentaries I have written, lectures I have given and interviews that have been broadcast or printed in the media on matters related to the political economy of the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.  They are all avaialble here for free.

These requests have come from university students, publications, academics, government officials and business people in many parts of the world. In the course of responding to these requests, I have been pleased to build up a network of global contacts who now receive my commentaries weekly.

From a career that encompassed broadcast and print journalism, development and commercial banking, diplomacy and international negotiations in both the public and private sectors, I am privileged to draw on wide and varied experiences to write, lecture and undertake consultancies.  The latter activity was susended while I carry out my present functions as Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda. 

I have taken the greatest pleasure in receiving comments and criticism from people all over the world that the Internet has made a “village”. I have learned from many of the comments I received. They have caused me to reflect on my own thinking. Through this website, I hope to communicate regularly with all who write to me.

The website is now a permanent repository of the weekly commentaries and lectures going back several years. Anyone is free to access them here, and to cite them provided my permission is sought in advance through the “Contact me” mechanism. A few of the lectures I have given in Britain and in the Caribbean are also posted on the site in a PDF format which can be easily downloaded. Again, I would make the same request to seek my permission before citing the material.

I invite responses to my writings, and inquiries about the experience and knowledge I can bring to achieving the objectives of companies and organizations that do business related to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Kind regards

Ronald Sanders