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US CARIBBEAN RELATIONS: The Biden Administration Year 1

                   “US-Caribbean Relations in Biden Administration Year 1”

A discussion brief for a Webinair discussion on April 28th 2022

and publication by the Florida International University

By Sir Ronald Sanders

 

 On April 28th, Sir Ronald presented a paper on “US-Caribbean Relations: The Biden Administration Year 1” at a webinar, which he was commissioned to produce by Florida International University (FIU),  the Latin American and Caribbean Centre and the Caribbean Policy Council.  The 7,000-word paper was subsequently published by  FIU. 

The paper can be read on this website under “Lectures” in the “Lectures and Interviews section.  

The discussion in the webinar which was Chaired by Dr Georges Fauriol and included former top US State Department Official, Ambassador Tom Shannon; Pulitzer Prize winning Reporter, Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald and Dr Vanessa Chaitram of Trinidad and Tobago, can viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfX0HrxcWjM

 

 

Latest Commentary: Abortion is a woman's right - legalize it

Abortion is a woman’s right – legalize it

By Sir Ronald Sanders

The right of women in the United States to have an abortion, which has existed for 49 years, has now become a matter of contention.

This right, which was accorded by the US Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, and essentially upheld again in 1992 and 2016, has come to be known as Roe v. Wade. The short-hand name is derived from the original case before the Court in which “Jane Roe” – a fictional name used to protect the identity of Norma McCorvey – brought the federal action against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas.

It is important to understand the background to the action by McCorvey. Abortions were legal in Texas at the time, but only for the purpose of saving a woman’s life. Therefore, women who wanted an abortion for any reason other than saving their lives, including rape and economic circumstances, were compelled to have the child. However, women with the financial means could obtain abortions by traveling to other countries where the procedure was safe and legal or paying a large fee to a doctor willing to secretly perform an abortion. These options were beyond the means of poorer women such as McCorvey.

Consequently, many women resorted to illegal, dangerous, “back-alley” abortions or self-induced abortions. In the 1950s and 1960s, the estimated number of illegal abortions in the US ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year.

It was only after trying unsuccessfully to get an illegal abortion that, with the help of willing lawyers, McCorvey challenged the Texas law in the US Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court by a 7-2 decision, struck down the Texas law banning abortion, effectively legalizing the procedure across the US. The Court also declared that a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in the right to privacy protected by the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

This right is now threatened by an opinion, allegedly drafted by Supreme Court Judge, Justice Samuel Alito, who is said to be one of the most conservative members of the court. The opinion was leaked on May 2, and he has not denied authorship.

As president Joe Biden has pointed out, “we do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court”, but there is strong anecdotal evidence that the draft is genuine. Therefore, it has ignited protests across the major cities in the US. It has also brought a sharp response from president Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris, both of whom, within 24 hours, issued statements defending “a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion”, and declaring that “basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned”.

The Black Caucus of the US Congress also reacted strongly, pointing out that, overturning the existing law “will have disproportionately devastating impacts on communities of colour, marginalized groups already facing discriminatory obstacles to health care and, will resonate globally”. Maxine Waters, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, summed up the view of the black members of the US Congress when she declared, “women must fight with every breath of life, to resist, resist, resist”.

The fear that now permeates the US is that the Supreme Court, which comprises a majority of right-wing judges appointed by Republican presidents, including Donald Trump, will overturn the 1973 abortion law, making it impossible for poorer women, especially black and low-income women, to get safe and legal abortions. Fundamentally, women would also lose the right to govern their bodies.

This matter is now a raging political issue in the US. It will escalate as the nation proceeds to mid-term elections for the US Congress in November. President Biden has appealed to voters to protect abortion rights by backing candidates who support them in November’s mid-term elections.

The discussion will inevitably migrate to the Caribbean where women are today far better educated than in the past and where they have climbed the ladder of decision-making in government and in the private sector. Caribbean women, too, rightly want the right to make a choice about abortions. They do not accept that any Court or legislature should make that choice for them. Anti-abortion laws have also worsened the economic condition for poorer women whose circumstances force them to become single mothers, trapping them in a life of struggle and deprivation.

In many CARICOM countries, abortion is not an option available to women, except to “save a woman’s life” as in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, or to “preserve health” which applies in The Bahamas, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname prohibit abortion altogether. Only three countries have a more progressive stance on this issue: Guyana allows abortions on request up to a gestational limit of 8 weeks, and Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines allow abortions for “broad social or economic grounds, rape, incest and foetal impairment”.

But it is an open secret that abortions are performed, as a matter of practice, throughout the Caribbean. By maintaining the existing laws, women are being criminalized, and so, too, are the doctors who perform abortions.

Undoubtedly, apart from women deeply inculcated with religious dogma that oppose abortions, the time cannot be far off when women, throughout the Caribbean, like the women of the US, will use their voting power to demand their right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Men who share the responsibility for unwanted pregnancies, in and out of wedlock, should also join the fight to safeguard women’s right to choose.

Caribbean governments and legislators should open their ears to the position of women on this issue. It is their bodies, their health and their future that are at stake. They should be heard.

Latest News in Pictures

Speaking at a meeting between Caribbean leaders and a US Congressional team, led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, in Barbados on Wednesday 20 April 2022 . I was pleased to initiate this process of consultation, as Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, with Congresswoman Waters in July 2019 (.(see photo in date order below with the Congresswoman in July 2019). Subsequently, in November 2019 we had the first Roundtable in Washington.


In an interview with British Channel 4 News, Sir Ronald explains that Britain must make MLAT request for assistance regarding two Yachts in Antigau waters allegedly owned by sanctioned Russian Oligarch, Roman Abramovich:  

See: What has happened to yachts linked to Roman Abramovich? – Channel 4 News

 

With the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Mario Adolfo Bucaro Flores, to discuss CARICOM-Central America cooperation and deepening relations at the OAS.  At the right of the photograph is Rita Calverie di Scioli, the Guatemalan Ambassador to the OAS, 31 March 2022

 

Members of the Committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor of the University of London to Inquire into the Future of Commonwealth Studies at the University. The report was submitted at the end of July 2021 and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies was given a renewed and expanded mandate.
Left to Right: Sir Ronald Sanders, Nabeel Goheer, Dr Conor Wyer, Professor Wendy Thomson - Vice Chancellor - Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Chairman) Lord (Paul) Boateng, Jo Fox - Dean of the School of Advanced Studies. Photo at Senate House. London, November 3rd 2021.

Participating as a delegate from Antigua and Barbuda in the Summit of 40 Leaders on Climate, organised by us President, Joseph Biden, on 22 and 23 April 2021.  Sir Ronald second from left at top.

 

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 

Latest statements at the OAS

 

 RUSSIA-UKRAINE

On 25 March 2022, the Permanent Council of the OAS adopted a Resolution in “The Crisis in Ukraine” by 28 votes in favour, none against, 5 abstentions and one absentee (Nicaragua).  The Resolution was drafted, negotiated and presented by Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders of Antigua and Barbuda and Ambassador Rita di Scioli of Guatemala.

The Resolution condemn all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights and calls upon all parties to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocol I thereto of 1977 as applicable, and to respect international human rights law;  Insisted that all parties respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular with regard to the protection of the civilian population; and reiterate the importance of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and of respect for the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw immediately all its military forces and equipment from within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine, and return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy.

It also decided to keep the status of Russia’s statues as a Permanent Observer at the OAS under review.

Below is the statement made by Sir Ronald Sanders to close the meeting:

Closing Statement by Sir Ronald Sanders

Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda

At the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS on the Crisis in Ukraine

on Friday, 25 March 2022

Madam Chair

Thank you for the opportunity to once again thank the delegations that joined the delegations of Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala in cosponsoring this resolution.

We thank all the 28 delegations that upheld the principles of the OAS Charter and the authority of the Permanent Council to raise its voice on international issues that are of such egregious proportions that they  threaten the wellbeing of all states including the members of the OAS,

We also thank the permanent observers that spoke here in encouragement of our Resolution.

Madam Chair, my delegation accepts the sovereign rights of our members states to speak and vote in accordance with positions arising from their circumstances.   Therefore, we accept and respect the rights of the 5 countries that abstained.

However, in the course of explanation of votes, one delegation said that the language of the resolution was infelicitous and was one of the reasons that caused that delegation not to support  the Resolution.

But, with all due respect, my delegation is obliged to point out that every delegation had the opportunity and the right to contribute to the language of the resolution, and all were invited to do so.

If any delegation did not seize that opportunity and did not exercise its right to negotiate the resolution , it can hardly complain about the final language of the resolution.

More alarmingly, Madam Chair, it was said that this Organisation of American States – one of the oldest multilateral organisations - has no authority to speak on a global issue even though it is clear that the issue involving aggression against a sovereign state, materially affects all our countries.

In law, any affected party has a right to voice its concerns and to seek remedies at the very least.

It seems that for the first time in its history, the OAS is expected to be silent as world peace and security is patently affected.

But silence is not an option in face of the violations of international law and of a grave humanitarian crisis

Silence is not an option for the OAS, especially as the two countries involved enjoy observer status of our Organisation with responsibilities to uphold the principles and values of our charter.

Madam Chair, we have acted in the OAS, after wide consultation amongst each other, to uphold the values for which we collective declare we stand.

Our collective action should be applauded and each of our countries that stood up here for international law and for peace and security deserves respect and thanks.

My delegation and the delegation of Guatemala thanks them all.

10th Anniversary of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on Urgent Reform of the Commonwealth

 

October 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the Report of the 2011 Eminent Persons Group (EPG) entitled:  A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform

The report can be read on this website.  The link is:

EPG Report FINALprintedVersion.pdf (sirronaldsanders.com)


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