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The  Bahamas  was  one of the targets of derision by many leaders of the Caribbean this past weekend, following a  meeting between Prime Minister Doctor Hubert Minnis, three other Caricom leaders   and  US President Donald Trump in Florida. 

  The brunt of the criticism came from the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago  Doctor  Keith Rowley  who said  Caricom called on the United  Nations  “to pay attention to us in Caricom, who have been totally ignored in the decision making  of the Lima Group, except for the few who could not see the pitfall, signed on to it, and then discover what the  outcome was after.”

He  said  if Trinidad and Tobago was snubbed by the US for steadfastly  adhering to the principles of the  United Nations’ Charter, then history will absolve us.

  Dr. Rowley made the statement at yesterday’s  Post-Cabinet Media briefing in response to President Trump’s invitation to five Caribbean leaders to his private resort at Mar-a-Lago to discuss the Venezuelan crisis and China trade practices.

   Dr. Rowley said , “there are some who believe that Trinidad was somewhat diminished by not having been invited.”

He said , “we have never stood taller, we have never  stood  prouder.”

The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Doctor Ralph Gonsalves speaking with reporters in his country said, “we in Caricom  have to be alive to the mischief that  some people are using to seek to divide us.

 “Part of the value of Caricom is that we always seek to hold a common position and to prevent a division and weakening  of Caricom.

In February, Caricom issued a statement to emphasize the non-interference in the affairs of Venezuela. We reaffirmed our support to democracy and human rights.”

He said none of the four Caricom leaders attending the meeting with Mr. Trump were authorized to speak for Caricom.

“Those Prime Ministers could only speak for themselves, as the Caricom Committee on Venezuela is comprised of  the  Prime Ministers of Saint Kitts, Trinidad and Barbados, who were not invited.’

 Dr. Gonsalves said the sanctions by the United States against Venezuela are illegal and  exacerbated a difficult situation.

He said “the United States is carrying out a creeping coup-de-tat against the legitimate government in Venezuela.”

The Bahamas  is standing firm in its decision to support Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of that country, according to Prime Minister Mr. Hubert Minnis.  

Off the heels of that multilateral meeting with President  Trump in Palm Beach Florida, the prime minister said that The Organization Of American States (OAS) categorically indicated that the election in that country was an illegitimate election. 

He said, “our argument was that if the election is illegitimate, that means that the government is illegitimate.”

He added, “if the government is illegitimate, we are a democratic society that believes in democracy; both us and America, which means you must have new elections, and that must be done as quickly as possible.”

When asked if there was any pressure from the U.S. to change the country’s relationship with china in the midst of their ongoing trade war, Dr. Minnis said “absolutely not.”

The other leaders attending the meeting with President Trump were the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the President of Haiti and the President of the Dominican Republic.

Last week, however, the White House issued a statement indicating that the purpose of last week’s meeting was to strengthen the United States’ “security cooperation and counter china’s predatory economic practices” as well as address the situation in Venezuela. 

Prime Minister Minnis also told reporters that there was no discussion or suggestion held at the meeting to have the United States fill in where China is currently investing in The Bahamas. 

The two superpowers, China and the United States, have been embroiled in a trade war since September of 2011.

The US slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese products while threatening on $267 billion more.

China has since retaliated by setting $110 billion worth of US goods, threatening “quantitative and qualitative measures” affecting US businesses functioning in China.

Last week, Haigang Yin, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy of The People’s Republic China to The Bahamas, called those U.S. accusations “fabricated lies and irresponsible accusations” which are “completely baseless, unreasonable and contradictory to the facts”.

U.S. Embassy to Nassau Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers has since responded advising all leaders to “choose high-quality, transparent, and inclusive foreign investment” in an effort to ensure that development financing avoids unsustainable debt. 

Seeking to solidify its position between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this past Thursday, issued a statement stating that  The Bahamas enjoys a longstanding, excellent diplomatic and trade relations with both countries — the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

The Bahamas established  Diplomatic relations  with the United States in 1973 and with the People’s Republic of China in 1997.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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