All eyes on Biden, Harris inauguration

US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. AP
US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. AP

Eyes around the world will focus on Washington DC today for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The inauguration comes after four years of a contentious Donald Trump presidency.

One of the first initiatives by the Trump administration was the withdrawal of funding for any programmes which could possibly include abortion as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights projects.

Known as the global gag rule, this initiative saw a decrease in funding to many programmes which provided birth control, menstrual products, and other services to underserved women worldwide. This affected organisations in the Caribbean which provide family planning services.

Climate change was another area where massive rollbacks took place during the Trump era.

The major one was pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, where nations worldwide agreed to mitigate global warming through various measures.

Climate change is likely to more adversely affect islands in the Caribbean, leading to more powerful storms and weather events, rising sea levels and warming temperatures.

On January 11, 2021, the US re-designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. This meant that new sanctions were imposed on that island, long the target of an embargo and other economic sanctions. Former US president Barack Obama attempted to normalise ties with Cuba, removing the country from the US blacklist.

Venezuela is another country which has been hard hit by US sanctions over the years.

The Trump administration did not recognise the election of President Nicolas Maduro. Last year the US filed indictments against Maduro and 13 other current or former members of Venezuela’s government and military for alleged drug trafficking.

On Monday, the US sanctioned a network of oil trading firms, individuals and vessels that have helped Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) sell crude mainly to Asia.

Trinidadians in the US are also watching the inauguration with bated breath, especially after the recent storming of The Capitol to force lawmakers to keep Trump in office although he lost the Presidential election.

Photographer Kimmi Ramnarine said, “I live in DC! It’s been wild to see what’s been happening. I’m staying in my house, watching online and following Twitter for updates.”

Her sister Nicki Ramnarine, who lives in North Carolina, said, “I will be watching livestreaming from home as well. I have been following various news sources leading up to the day. Maybe a distanced watch party with Kimmi at times, but no physical parties. Covid19 is still too real.”

Educator Sarojani Mohammed, who lives in Texas, said, “I’m watching from home. I might join an online livestream in a Facebook group. Just trying to stay safe and healthy, and slightly anxious about potential violence.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne said the TT government wishes the best for the people of the US.

“The government hopes for a peaceful and orderly Presidential inauguration in Washington DC. We have already signalled our positive anticipation of working with President Biden on a range of issues, building on the long history of excellent relations between our two nations.”

The public affairs section of the US Embassy in Port of Spain said there would be no special events here owing to covid19 restrictions.


"All eyes on Biden, Harris inauguration"

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