The strategic message behind US-Caribbean relations: Russia and China should not be invited to the Caribbean …

On 29 April 2022, Kamala Harris met with a number of political leaders to discuss the furtherance of relations between the United States and the Caribbean.  Topics in the closed-door meeting supposedly ranged from immigration, trade, and climate change.  The discussion reportedly leads up to next month’s Summit of the Americas, a meeting of Caribbean and Latin American leaders with the reported purpose of addressing economic, political, and these days, climate challenges impacting the region.

I note here that former U.S. senator Christopher Dodd met with the leaders of CARICOM member states reportedly on the issues of climate change, energy security, and disaster preparedness.    

From a narrative perspective, given the economic leverage the United States has in the western hemisphere, last week’s meetings and next month’s forum is about getting the rest of the region “on code” as to the wants and needs of the United States. 

Given the American perception that an emerging People’s Republic of China and an ever-pesky Russian Federation pose economic and political threats to the United States, the United States has to craft and transmit a narrative that the Caribbean can itself adapt and spread among its constituents.   

The most recent example of Chinese threats to United States’ hegemony in the Caribbean region is the new republic of Barbados’ willingness to establish a relationship with China as indicated by Barbados membership in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

Barbados recently became a republic, ditching Queen Elizabeth II and installing its own elected president.  This change in the head of state comes with a declining level of United Kingdom investment in Barbados currently pegged at approximately USD 5 billion.

China’s investment in Barbados reportedly exceeds the U.K.’s amount although China has a way to catch up with U.S. investment in Barbados which stands around USD 45 billion.

U.S. concerns with Russia appear to be more along the lines of political and military threats than China’s economic threats.  The U.S. is concerned that Russia is leveraging security deals with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in order to straighten its posture in America’s backyard.

Politically, Russia’s support of authoritarian-populist regimes in Latin America poses a challenge to the U.S. political philosophy of democratic elections and private ownership of capital.

I am not privy to what Ms Harris shared with Caribbean leaders in their closed-door session.  I don’t think that Caribbean leaders took Ms Harris’ opening remarks as a pledge of altruism.  Like any holder of monopoly power, where there is a threat of entry, the monopolist offers special services or discounts in order to keep customers loyal while taking steps to kick new entrants out of the market.

If Ms Harris made this kind of appeal behind closed doors, then her strategic messaging was on point.  The goal of strategic messaging is to maintain optimal political positioning.  Optimal political positioning for the United States means maximizing sought after benefits such as a minimally challenged trade position in the Caribbean region and securing firmer support for Ukraine as that country attempts to repel an invasion from Russia. 

The Caribbean reaction from has been mixed,  While the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries opposed Russia’s invasion, most have been ambivalent about imposing sanctions even though their trade with Russia is overall minimal.

Alton Drew

1 May 2022

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Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Virtual Meeting with Caribbean Leaders

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Thank you all for joining us today for this very important meeting.  I am Kamala Harris, and I’m pleased to welcome you all to this conversation and this convening.

As a neighbor in the Western Hemisphere, the United States shares a common bond with the nations of the Caribbean.  As neighbors, we know our partnership is key to our shared prosperity and security. 

We also know that we have common challenges.  And that is why I’ve convened this meeting: to strengthen our partnership and chart a path forward together.

As we all know, our nations have extensive people-to-people ties.  Millions of Americans have Caribbean heritage.  Millions of Americans travel to the Caribbean each year for vacation, to visit friends and family, and to engage with the richness of that history.

From South Florida to New York and beyond, Caribbean culture has become a meaningful part of American culture.  And we are all grateful for that. 

At the same time, we recognize that we find ourselves collectively in a challenging time.  The pandemic has upended so many aspects of our lives and the lives of our people.  And economic recovery has been difficult and uneven for so many in this region. 

There is also an existential threat we collectively face in the climate crisis, and we are acutely aware that the world’s emissions have an outsize impact on the Caribbean.

In light of this, I want to be clear: The United States is committed to you, our neighbors, and we will take on these challenges together. Convenings like this haven’t happened very often.  So, today, as a demonstration of our administration’s commitment, I propose this be an annual meeting.

We have, of course, today, a lot to discuss.  And there are three areas in particular that I will ask us to focus on — areas that I know are a priority for many of you: economic recovery, security, and climate and energy.

On the issue of economic recovery, the United States is the Caribbean’s biggest economic partner.  This partnership benefits the economy of the United States just as it benefits your economies.  So we will explore today how we can strengthen that economic partnership.

On the issue of security, I know for many of you that you are particularly concerned about the trafficking of drugs and guns, and the associated violence.  That is why today’s agenda includes a discussion of additional funding and other support the United States can offer to reduce violence in the region.

And third, we will discuss the urgent issue for our entire planet: the issue of the climate crisis.  In particular, we will discuss ways to strengthen your climate resilience and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. 

Your input will help guide the United States’ effort in the days and months ahead.

To each of you: I thank you for being here, and I thank you for the work we have done and will continue to do together.  I look forward to our discussion today and to our gathering in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas in June. 

Thank you to the members of the press who are watching these opening remarks.  We will now proceed with the rest of our meeting.  Thank you.

                             END                4:41 P.M. EDT

Source: The White House

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates as of 10:50 am AST

Currency Pair14 March 202215 March 202216 March 202217 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.00001.0000
USD/JMD151.469151.847151.451151.49
USD/HTG105.441105.114104.584104.887
USD/DOP54.587554.510754.42454.4181
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.70002.7000
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.00002.0000
USD/TTD6.645496.665676.653046.66022
USD/GYD199.77200.46200.121200.334
USD/VEF428,490.0428,249425,659423,634
Dollar Index98.9198.6798.5998.10
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates as of 9:01 am AST

Currency Pair14 March 202215 March 202216 March 202217 March 202218 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.00001.00001.0000
USD/JMD151.469151.847   
USD/HTG105.441105.114   
USD/DOP54.587554.5107   
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.70002.70002.7000
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.00002.00002.0000
USD/TTD6.645496.66567   
USD/GYD199.77200.46   
USD/VEF428,490.0428,249   
Dollar Index98.9198.67   
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates as of 9:40 am AST

Currency Pair14 March 202215 March 202216 March 202217 March 202218 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.00001.00001.0000
USD/JMD151.469    
USD/HTG105.441    
USD/DOP54.5875    
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.70002.70002.7000
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.00002.00002.0000
USD/TTD6.64549    
USD/GYD199.77    
USD/VEF428,490.0    
Dollar Index98.91    
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates as of 9:13 am AST

Currency Pair7 March 2022(10:35 am AST)8 March 20229 March 202210 March 202211 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.00001.00001.0000
USD/JMD153.474153.114152.178152.018151.647
USD/HTG104.162104.034103.91104.6104.774
USD/DOP54.515254.671854.565454.426854.2854
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.70002.70002.7000
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.00002.00002.0000
USD/TTD6.678876.653296.613316.653486.63509
USD/GYD200.983200.636199.732199.837199.447
USD/VEF433,957.00433,230.00431,338431,230431,063
Dollar Index98.7398.9498.4598.3798.59
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates as of 10:48 am AST

Currency Pair7 March 2022(10:35 am AST)8 March 20229 March 202210 March 202211 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.00001.0000 
USD/JMD153.474153.114152.178152.018 
USD/HTG104.162104.034103.91104.6 
USD/DOP54.515254.671854.565454.4268 
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.70002.7000 
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.00002.0000 
USD/TTD6.678876.653296.613316.65348 
USD/GYD200.983200.636199.732199.837 
USD/VEF433,957.00433,230.00431,338431,230 
Dollar Index98.7398.9498.4598.37 
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

The Caribbean: Foreign exchange rates of interest at 9:52 am AST

Currency Pair7 March 20228 March 20229 March 202210 March 202211 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.00001.0000  
USD/JMD153.474153.114152.178  
USD/HTG104.162104.034103.91  
USD/DOP54.515254.671854.5654  
USD/XCD2.70002.70002.7000  
USD/BBD2.00002.00002.0000  
USD/TTD6.678876.653296.61331  
USD/GYD200.983200.636199.732  
USD/VEF433,957.00433,230.00431,338  
Dollar Index98.7398.9498.45  
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

U.S. and Caribbean Interbank Market Scan: Foreign exchange rates as of 8:26 am AST

Currency Pair7 March 2022(10:35 am AST)8 March 2022(8:26 am AST)9 March 202210 March 202211 March 2022
USD/BSD1.00001.0000   
USD/JMD153.474153.114   
USD/HTG104.162104.034   
USD/DOP54.515254.6718   
USD/XCD2.70002.7000   
USD/BBD2.00002.0000   
USD/TTD6.678876.65329   
USD/GYD200.983200.636   
USD/VEF433,957.00433,230.00   
USD/MXN20.926821.1419   
Dollar Index98.7398.94   
Sources: OANDA, MarketWatch

U.S. and Caribbean Interbank Market News Scan: Foreign exchange rates of interest as of 10:35 am AST

Currency Pair7 March 20228 March 20229 March 202210 March 202211 March 2022
USD/BSD1.0000    
USD/JMD153.474    
USD/HTG104.162    
USD/DOP54.5152    
USD/XCD2.7000    
USD/BBD2.0000    
USD/TTD6.67887    
Source: OANDA

Dollar Index=98.73

Source: MarketWatch