CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 10, 2010: Today, several Caribbean ministers will get another opportunity for a face-to-face with a top U.S. official, this time U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton is set to meet with the region`s foreign ministers in Barbados to discuss issues germane to them. The meeting comes on the heels of several dialogues she`s had with Latin American leaders, many of whom have used and continue to use every opportunity to raise issues not just of concern to them but to their Diaspora.
Not our CARICOM body, however. Instead, while there is much lip service paid to the importance of the Caribbean Diaspora, especially in the U.S., never once has the CARICOM bloc of leaders or ministers used meetings with U.S. officials to include issues of concern to their Diaspora.
Do they even know what these are? Yet we are consistently told we are important, especially during appeals of aid following natural disasters or when these same leaders are lobbying for political contributions. Apart from that, the Diaspora might as well as non-existent to this regional body and its leaders.
So today, the leaders will again meet with a top U.S. official and again ignore the issues of its Diaspora, chief of which is undoubtedly immigration reform. Instead, according to a CARICOM statement Wednesday, the foreign ministers of the Caribbean will choose to focus on the effect of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, issues related to the reconstruction of Haiti, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and the Impact of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis and health and Development Co-operation.
The meeting is scheduled for 90 minutes, added the statement. So in 90 minutes, not a single mention of the top issue of concern to the Caribbean Diaspora could be squeezed in?
Do regional leaders and CARICOM realize that you are only as strong and important to the U.S. as your voting Diaspora? It is votes that matter most to the U.S. not how self-important you may each consider yourself within the tiny square miles of land mass you rule over.
Caribbean leaders will do well to study the Israeli lobbying agenda and note why Israel continues to be so well connected. It is not because of the country itself but its Diaspora. Further, the Caribbean region should take a page from their Latin American counterparts and remember the many Caribbean nationals who call the U.S. home are still Caribbeans and their issues must be taken into account.
But most of all, the Caribbean Diaspora must take note of this continued dismissal and speak up and speak out, especially when the many Caribbean leaders travel here to placate them with talk of their importance or to beg for donations and aid. Enough is enough. It is time that CARICOM and its leaders be taken to task for this consistent dismissal of their own. – By Felicia Persaud/CWNN NY.