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Thursday 20 June 2019
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Antigua, SVG hit C’bean-Trump meeting

A split in Caricom over the Venezuela crisis was seemingly shown by angry statements by two Caricom leaders condemning other Caricom heads who met US President Donald Trump at his Florida resort last week.

Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves chided the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica and St Lucia, plus non-member the Dominican Republic.

This was reported in a Jamaica Gleaner story by Romario Scott on Caricom "sell-outs."

Seemingly referring to Trump’s promise of investment for his five guests, Browne asked whether the Florida visit represented diplomacy or bribery.

“I feel embarrassed for those weak-minded leaders who allowed themselves to be used by carrying out the agenda of others,” Browne said in a statement online. “Caricom must continue its sustaining position by standing on principle without inducements or fear of reprisals.” He said some were intent on undermining Caricom’s solidarity so as to relegate the region to history.

Browne also said the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) already operates in the Caribbean, and claimed China offered much better terms in its loans of two per cent over 20 years, with a five-year moratorium.

The Gleaner reported Gonsalves' remarks to reporters in Barbados after a LIAT shareholders' meeting. Saying the four Caricom leaders had met Trump on their own behalf, Gonsalves said, “None of those governments can speak for anybody but themselves. Certainly, they can’t speak for Caricom or St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He said a Caricom committee comprising the leaders of St Kitts and Nevis, TT and Barbados was heading dialogue on the Venezuela crisis.

Gonsalves said the region must be aware of the mischief of those seeking to divide Caricom and reduce the efficacy of its work.

The Gleaner reported that Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said Jamaica has not recognised Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, and that the only country in the Lima Group at Trump’s meeting was St Lucia.

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