The Summit of the Americas – Picking and Choosing Attendees
Random Thoughts
June 17, 2022
The Summit of the Americas – Picking and Choosing Attendees

I WAS THINKING about the most recent edition of the Summit of the Americas, which closed on June 10 in Los Angeles, USA.

Who did not attend –

Not in attendance were the official leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. They were not invited. Also, not in attendance, by choice, were the heads of government of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Their absence constituted a protest or a statement of principle, regarding the non-invitation of the aforementioned “Excluded Three”.

This story made regional news headlines and hit global news networks as well. It had the makings of a controversy that would have diminished the intended purpose of this hemispheric gathering. Yet, the Summit went on as scheduled.

It seems that they got some work done in relation to migration, climate change and general hemispheric collaboration. At least, they arrived at a position on these matters, along with accompanying action plans.

Clearly, if they want meaningful results, on the matter of immigration at least, discussions must take place with those who stayed away. Let us see what happens in the upcoming months.

The Gonsalves Stance –

I am a bit ambivalent about the position that CARICOM should have taken in relation to participating in the Summit. On the one hand, I can appreciate Dr Gonsalves’s decision to stay away. The Americas is for and about all countries and peoples who are in this hemisphere.
The Biden/Blinken administration should not decide whom to be invited or not invited because it does not agree with their political systems or the politics of their leaders. Although you may ask yourself whether you want to break bread with a leader (Daniel Ortega) who incarcerated the major opposition leaders and barred them from participating in presidential elections.

Principle versus Pragmatism –

Principle must not clash with pragmatism. There are those who argue that the Biden policies towards Latin America and the Caribbean are a bit more accommodating than those of his predecessor – there is greater dialogue between the USA and Cuba today. Whether for the right or wrong reason, since Putin’s troops have set foot on Ukrainian soil, there have been strong murmurs of USA and the Maduro government returning to the negotiating table to discuss the lifting of sanctions and increased oil production.

But whether these actions have taken place or not, I will not hold it against those CARICOM leaders for attending, with the aim of dealing with the over-arching matters. While there, they could have opted to speak on the US government invitation faux-pas, making it clear that the best way to deal with hemispheric bugbears is to talk straight-up, face to face with those you oppose or with those who oppose you.

The same view applies to those who deliberately stayed away.

An Ease in Covid-19 Protocols –

At the time of writing, the number of known active cases in SVG is fewer than 200, and currently trending downwards. Although, new cases are riding a roller-coaster, the mean number is not alarming. However, we have to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.

I get the impression that many persons feel that the pandemic is all but gone and life should return to normal – “tings nice agen!“

Border health in the UK and in the USA are no longer tasked with checking on travellers with vaccination certificates and Covid tests. This is a significant relief for those who are heading off/ back to any one of those countries during the upcoming weeks. It has been quite a stressor for both visitors and port health officials, over the last two years.

SVG Health’s position –

It is a bit different in SVG. At this time, SVG Health is telling the unvaccinated (only), to come with a valid Covid test and be quarantined for five days at an approved facility. Some persons are not happy with the country’s position. But, as the figures show, Covid has not yet left our shores. With Vincy Mas coming up in a matter of days, we run the risk of another major spike.

I am quite comfortable with this requirement. If you are going to SVG anytime soon, don’t stress yourself, get vaccinated within the requisite time frame and then enjoy the country’s delights, without the pre-travel bureaucratic hassle.