|Obama, Santos declare big success|
|Friday, 20 April 2012 12:09|
Mixed bag for CARICOM and OAS
Despite a tense session at the recent 6th Summit of the Americas in Categena, Columbia, U.S. President Barack Obama successfully closed a lucrative trade agreement with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, achieving his goals of boosting employment and commerce back home.
The agreement, which will become effective May 15, will eliminate duties for more than 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports and over 50 percent of agricultural commodities entering Colombia. The majority of Columbian goods entering the U.S. will also remain duty free. This new policy hopes to generate millions of jobs in both the U.S. and Colombia.
But, despite President Santos declaring the summit a success, there was major disagreement among summit representatives about the admittance of Cuba into the Organization of American States (OAS) and the proposed legalization of drugs.
Canada and the U.S. vetoed attempts by the other nations to admit Cuba, until it adapts more democratic principles. As a result, the summit ended without the collected heads of state producing a final declaration.
Meanwhile, although Obama agreed to investigating new approaches to address drug trafficking and violence in the region, he rebuffed the proposal of other countries to legalize drugs. Obama however argued that legalizing drugs would not be a valid option in the U.S.
CARICOM heads meet with Obama
CARICOM heads of government also met with Obama following the summit to campaign for greater support in securing the region from the booming illegal drug and gun trade.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar confirmed that the region will receive US$130 million in financial assistance from the U.S. to tackle crime and security in the region.
The group also discussed other concerns including the development of regional small business, distance education collaborations, job creation, healthcare, information and communication technology, debt management and the role of the G20 in assisting highly indebted middle income countries.
Obama assured CARICOM leaders that the bonds between the two sides were deep and that he was "personally invested in the region."
The discussion among the state leaders however avoided addressing the controversial subjects circulating the region. President Obama has made no comment about the demonstrations in Suriname protesting against new amnesty laws that would pardon Suriname president and current CARICOM chairman, Desí Bouterse, for his alleged responsibility for the 1982 "December murders." The Netherland recently announced that it would cut aid to the country in protest against the controversial law.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar also defended the U.S. administration's controversial stance against Cuba joining the OAS, despite CARICOM's longstanding support of Cuba's membership.
"Trinidad and Tobago is of the view that a sovereign nation, such as the U.S., has a right to act in accordance with its domestic and foreign policy as does every sovereign nation," said Persad Bissessar. "We in Trinidad and Tobago and the CARICOM can't force any nation to support our position on Cuba, we can't strong-arm anyone."
|Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2012 12:44|