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Beyond Ukraine

Beyond Ukraine

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The Russian “special military operation” has certainly clouded important news in the Caribbean. We are not even hearing much about the pandemic which is still with us. I note that St. Lucia yesterday recorded 107 new COVID-19 cases. The CDC in the US has moved SVG from level-1 low risk to level 2 ‘moderate risk’. Not really alarming but we have to keep monitoring our situation since many of us have thrown caution to the wind. There is, of course, never a dull moment in SVG and CARICOM. The quarry issue continues to loom large; the four homicides a few weekends ago was a brief talking point. Some of us are still awaiting the arrest of the phantom that shot Cornelius John. The SVG Teachers Union challenge to the termination of workers for refusing to take the vaccine is I believe currently going through the court process. Talk about the young lady who died from a burst appendix had reached parliament prompting an inquiry. I am not sure what the incursion of the bat into the parliamentary debate portends. Is it an omen?

St. Kitts/Nevis is at it again, over the issue of a vote of ‘no-confidence’. The PM’s response was to fire members of ‘Team Unity’ who signed the document calling for a vote of ‘No Confidence’. This is interesting given what happened during his break with Denzil Douglas and Eustace’s effort to be an advocate for his cause. Hopefully, elections to be held in 90 days will make its own statement.

Then there is the BVI issue, the Premier having been arrested in the US on drug and money laundering charges. The House of Assembly voted to revoke his premiership and to swear in his Deputy Dr Natalio ‘Sowande’ Wheatley as head of a national unity government. The arrest of the Premier has forced the early presentation of the report of a one-man commission of inquiry which apart from recommending changes to deal with issues of transparency and governance has suggested “Direct Rule” by the UK through its governor, that is at best retrograde, reminding us of the period of Crown Colony government that Caribbean people struggled against. As Caribbean people we have to be firm in condemning this backward step. If there are problems with the conduct of the disgraced premier let justice prevail and take its course. The people of the BVI should not be subjected to direct British rule. Recommendations for proper governance if agreed on could be implemented without resorting to the archaic Crown Colony government.

CARICOM is yet to agree on support for a candidate for General Secretary of the Commonwealth. There seemed to have originally been a consensus to support the re-election of the Dominican born Dame Patricia Scotland, but Jamaica had subsequently put forward its own candidate, senator Kamina Johnson -Smith who has been serving as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister. A select group, it appears, is to meet with both candidates and make a recommendation. One of the issues is that Dame Scotland’s tenure has been marked by allegations of corruption and other ills of bad governance. The eventual decision should tell us something about CARICOM.

Brewing too is a threat by CARICOM to boycott the upcoming meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) if Cuba and Venezuela are prevented from attending. There even appears to be the possibility that Venezuelan Opposition leader Juan Guaido, the US favourite, might instead be invited. At issue is the claim that the OAS is only open to countries that are practising democracies. But the US’s continuing claim to democracy is standing on shallow grounds.

There is a strong possibility that the next US president could be Donald Trump, the main figure behind the attempted January 6 coup. Trump has been shaping the Republican party in his own image. One of his preferred candidates won his primary even though he is in prison facing charges, I believe, of murdering his wife, if I remember correctly. A number of states are putting in place measures to ensure that they can override the will of the people and declare their own candidate as winner in any election. The US should concentrate on building democracy in its own country before judging others. It will then have some credibility.

Then, of course, the war in Ukraine is forcing alarmingly increased costs that could have far reaching implications.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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