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In the commentaries section, all the latest commentaries have been posted.  The latest one appears below:

 

Caribbean people at risk of prolonging COVID-19 to their detriment

By Sir Ronald Sanders

People in the Caribbean, who refuse to take vaccinations to counter the Coronavirus, will cause the COVID-19 pandemic to remain longer in the region, endangering lives, livelihoods, and entire economies.

Whatever genuine fears may exist, these people must be educated about the value of the vaccine to their own health and they must be encouraged by all influential agencies to take it.  

If they need convincing, they should look at the experience of other countries where more than 139 million people have taken the vaccine and not one of them has died from it.   

The Churches, whose leaders have been preaching against the vaccine, are doing neither their followers nor their countries any good.  Similarly, the representatives of trade unions, who argue that their members have the right not to take vaccines, might consider enlightening them about the benefits of the vaccine to their individual well-being, their families, the wider community, and the businesses from which they derive a living.

At the rate at which vaccines are currently available and being rolled out in the world, the Caribbean will be behind Britain and the U.S. in controlling the virus by at least a year.  If a significant number of people remain unvaccinated, the delay will be even longer.

Caribbean countries cannot afford a year, let alone a more extended period, to suppress the virus.  Many economies are already in dire straits, poverty is expanding, unemployment is rising, economies are declining, hospitals are besieged, and many more people are dying.

This is why at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) on 17 February, all independent CARICOM countries joined Antigua and Barbuda in promoting adoption of a resolution calling for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

Action is necessary to get vaccines into Caribbean countries so that at least 80 per cent of the people can be inoculated to build ‘herd immunity’.  This is achieved when a large part of the population is immune to the disease. If enough people are resistant to the coronavirus, it will have nowhere to go and it will peter out.

Right now, every country in the Caribbean is way behind developed countries with which they interact for tourism, trade in goods and other commercial and social activity.  For example, at the time of writing (February 18), Britain has inoculated 23.7 per cent of its population with the first dose of the vaccine; the U.S 12.3 per cent; Canada 3.48 per cent; and many of the countries in the European Union almost 3 per cent.  No country in the Caribbean has vaccinated more than 0.9 per cent of their populations.

The main reason for this is that rich countries, representing only 16 per cent of the world’s population have bought, and are hoarding, 60 per cent of the available vaccine candidates.   This means that 40 per cent is left for 84 per cent of the global population, including the Caribbean.

This situation demands urgent attention if the Caribbean is to survive the already devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  That is why the Antigua and Barbuda initiative at the OAS was strongly and fully supported by other CARICOM nations.   It is also why the resolution received full support at the OAS.  Twenty-nine of the Organization’s 34 member states, including the Caribbean, are among the over 100 nations that have vaccinated less than 1 per cent of their people.

The Caribbean needs greater access to vaccines and at an affordable price.  Hence, the donation of 570,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by India to CARICOM countries is a great relief.  The rollout has started in a few countries.  But, there are not sufficient stocks to accelerate the inoculation programme to get all CARICOM countries to at least 80 per cent of their populations.

The main vaccine manufacturers have to be urged to ramp-up their production at an affordable price.  Concentrating on selling only to the rich nations will not eliminate the global pandemic.    A research study, sponsored by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts, shows that even if wealthy countries are fully vaccinated by the end of this year, but poor countries remain largely shut out, “the global economy would suffer losses exceeding $9 trillion, a sum greater than the annual output of Japan and Germany combined”.

What should worry every citizen and resident of Caribbean countries is that their economies have already declined so significantly that, even if there is recovery later in 2021 or in 2022, it will not be sufficient to return them to 2019 levels. 

Foreign direct investment in the Caribbean declined last year by more than 50 per cent. With many economies across the region in a state of prolonged inactivity, the downward investment trend for 2021 is even more precipitous.  The year 2022 is unlikely to get any better unless each country gets the virus under control.

The populations of Caribbean countries, amounting to 20 million people, are competing with 450 million people in Latin America and another 360 million in the U.S. and Canada to achieve 80 per cent inoculations.  They are also competing against 7 billion people globally.  They cannot afford to leave themselves behind – they must get themselves inoculated.

Leaders and influencers in every sector – the Churches, the trade unions and the media – have to support Caribbean governments that have tried their best with scarce and reduced financial resources to manage the coronavirus and now to inoculate against it.

No Caribbean country can afford to be a year behind the nations with which they interact for their livelihood and development.

New Lectures

Statement by Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of CARICOM and other co-sponsors of the Resolution on The Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines

 On 17 February 2021

 

Madam President

I make this statement on behalf of all 14 CARICOM States, Honduras and other cosponsors of this Resolution.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge to public health on a global scale.

There are confirmed cases in more than 200 countries.

As of yesterday, there were 109 million cases globally and more than 2 million, four hundred thousand deaths world-wide.

Member states of this Organization accounted for more than 48 million infected cases and over one million, one hundred thousand deaths.

In other words, our countries have suffered 45% of the infected cases and 48% of the deaths.

That is almost half the global number of infected cases and nearly half the number of deaths in the world.

Madam President, those figures alone should give each of us – and all of us - every good reason to be gravely troubled about the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of our peoples.

In many – if not all – our countries, our hospitals are finding it enormously difficult to cope.

This is the primary reason why the 14 member states of CARICOM and 8 other sisters of in this Organization have co-sponsored the Resolution that is now before this Permanent Council, calling for a scaling up of the production of vaccines and a rapid and equitable acceleration of their distribution.

Over a million people in our countries have died.

They have died alone.

No family with them.

No loved one to whom to say goodbye.

They have had hurried funerals that have left families emotionally scarred.

Unless vaccines are produced and distributed, many more hundreds of thousands will suffer the same fate.

 

Madam President

Of the three main vaccine producing companies, one of them has sold most of its early doses only to rich countries where immunization campaigns are underway.

Poorer countries have been almost entirely shut out.

As of yesterday, a Study done by Duke University here in the US, shows that just 15% of the world’s population in wealthy countries have bought 60 percent of the all the available vaccine doses.

The inequity of the situation is clear for all to see.

Poorer countries are left waiting for adequate supplies of vaccines, and the pandemic is being prolonged with all its devastating effects.

The magnitude of the problem is echoing in other international organisations.

Today, the Security Council of the United Nations is also considering inequality and inequity in access to the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. 

Nations all over the world are worried, mindful of the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln that no country can survive half-free and half slave.

Similarly, the world will not survive if 15% of the world holds for itself 60% of vaccines, and 85% of the people must struggle for an equitable share.

Madam President

The figures are instructive, regarding which countries have performed best in terms of delivering the first dose of any Covid-19 vaccination to a high percentage of their people.

Apart from the United Arab Emirates at 53.7% and Israel at 39.6%, the countries that have secured vaccines and been able to give their people at least one dose are:

Great Britain – 22.6%

The United States of America – almost 12%.

And the countries of the European Union - almost all of which have had sufficient vaccines to inoculate 4% of their people so far.

Amongst our member states, apart from the US, Chile ranks highest at 10.2%.

Thereafter, only three of our member states have managed to inoculate more than 1% of their people and even so, the inoculated numbers are paltry.

The three member states are: Peru at 3.5%, Canada at 3.25%, and Brazil at 2.41%.

None of our remaining 29 member states have had sufficient vaccines to inoculate more than 0.95% of their people.

The situation is deeply troubling, portending a calamity which threatens the entire world.

The contagion has fast extended to the economic sphere.

The looming global recession, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned could be of “record dimensions”, will pose a serious threat to developing countries at a time when investing in Sustainable Development Goals is most needed.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean had projected a decline in foreign direct investment to Latin America and the Caribbean last year -2020 - by about 50%.

With many economies across the region in a state of prolonged inactivity, the downward investment trend for 2021 is even more precipitous.

The year 2022 is unlikely to get any better unless every country gets the virus under control.

Developed countries will not escape these harmful economic consequences.

A research study, sponsored by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts, states that: “In monopolizing the supply of vaccines against COVID-19, wealthy nations are threatening more than a humanitarian catastrophe: The resulting economic devastation will hit affluent countries nearly as hard as those in the developing world”.  

The study, also points out that even if wealthy countries are fully vaccinated by the middle of this year, and poor countries remain largely shut out, “the global economy would suffer losses exceeding $9 trillion, a sum greater than the annual output of Japan and Germany combined”.

We are truly all in this together.

The Director, of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, has made it clear that to get anywhere near seeing a suppression of the Coronavirus at least 70 to 80% of our populations have to be vaccinated.  

That is about 450 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean and 360 million people in the US and Canada.

The combined numbers mean that we need to inoculate over 800 million people to reach the threshold of between 70% and 80% that gives us a level of what is called “herd immunity”.

This is a matter that demands an urgent response from all countries, acting in concert, and particularly from the richest nations.   

We are bringing this matter to the Permanent Council of the OAS because it is not only a public health emergency; it is a political problem with several urgent dimensions, including:

Global economic decline

Massive unemployment

Huge expansion in poverty

Inability to repay existing debt

Degradation of human rights in all countries

Threats to the sustainability of democracy in many countries

A large swell in refugees.

Millions more infected persons

Collapse of health systems and

Millions more deaths.

 

Madam President,

There are other attendant problems.

Our colleague the distinguished Ambassador of Honduras has pointed out that the Countries of Central America and the Caribbean - the majority of countries assembled here – suffer year after year from natural disasters.

Many of these countries were still recovering from these disasters when the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon them like the biblical swarm of locusts.

They struggled through 2020 with significantly decreased national revenues amid extraordinary expenses to manage the health and economic effects of the pandemic.

They are stretched to the absolute limit.

The importance of inoculating a large number of our people before the Hurricane Season starts in five months’ time must be emphasized. 

In bringing this Resolution to the Permanent Council, the CARICOM member states, and Honduras consulted widely.

We took account of a great number of suggestions, conceding many of our positions, in crafting what is now before us.

The Resolution is not perfect.  

No resolution ever satisfies all the delegations all the time.

Indeed, we in CARICOM and Honduras would have liked it to be stronger in many aspects.

But, we did not want to discard the good, because we could not attain the perfect.

We believe the Resolution before us will serve all our countries well in the objectives it is trying to achieve.

We must recall that 29 of our 34 states have only been able to inoculate a tiny number of their people - less than 1%.

I recall your own words, Madam President, spoken on a similar occasion – there is a danger of inequity even in hope.

All of us must firmly act against that danger.

In commending this Resolution to the Council, I hope Madam President that we will not have to vote on it, and that in a spirit of cooperation and in our mutual interest, we will adopt it by acclamation.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Latest News in Pictures

 

With the late Right Honourable Professor Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados at his office at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in January 2020, talking Caribbean integration

 

Meeting between US Congressional Representatives, Global Banks and Caribbean government representative.  Congresswoman Maxin Waters (centre in red), Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne to her right, Sir Ronald Sanders to Prime Minister Browne's right.  Capitol Hill on November 14, 2019

 

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.


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