U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Kamala Harris (D-CA); and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have been quiet when it comes to matters pertaining to the Eastern Caribbean. A review of their internet activity and U.S. Senate websites found the following:
Amy Klobuchar: Viva Cuba!
Overall, Senator Klobuchar has not expressed overt interest in the Eastern Caribbean. Her Caribbean focus has been on Cuba. Senator Klobuchar would like to modernize the United States’ relationship with Cuba including improving commercial links between the two countries. Improving the links also includes positioning Minnesota farmers to benefit from exporting agricultural products to the western Caribbean nation.
Senator Klobuchar has put her interest into legislative action when, during the 115th Congress, she introduced the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act which, according to Senator Klobuchar, would lift the trade embargo and eliminate legal barriers to Americans who want to do business with Cuba.
I have always been suspect of initiatives to increase commerce with Cuba, especially in the area of tourism. Tourism increased in the U.S. Virgin Islands during the early 1960s as a result of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba and I would hate to see the USVI or nations in the Eastern Caribbean see a dip in tourist dollars as a result of a U.S.-sponsored tourism boost of Cuba,
On the other hand, initiatives like those of Senator Klobuchar are a wake-up call that smaller island nations have to be increasingly diligent in diversifying their economies in order to address inevitable competition.
Kamala Harris: She’s a Yardee
My review of Senator Harris’ record on the U.S. relationship with the Eastern Caribbean also finds the relationship sparse. Senator Harris has not opined on trade relationships with the Eastern Caribbean or offered any legislation that can boost the relationship.
However, if I expand the definition of trade relationship to include the labor market, Senator Harris has co-sponsored legislation (S.386), that amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate per country numerical limits for employment-based immigrants. The bill also increases the per country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants.
The bill would, in theory, allow more Caribbean nationals to seek economic opportunity in the United States, but I believe, like all political packages, this bill is geared toward winning votes from the North and Central American Spanish-speaking community. Its primary intent was not to help the Eastern Caribbean but Eastern Caribbean nationals should take advantage of this legislation should it ever pass the U.S. Congress.
At this rate, I don’t expect much more from Senator Harris regarding U.S.-Eastern Caribbean relations.
Elizabeth Warren: Nowhere to be seen
Senator Warren’s track record on U.S.-Eastern Caribbean relations is non-existent. She has not sponsored or co-sponsored any bills that would shore up economic ties between the two regions. Should she become president, I expect her policies toward the region to be more reactive than proactive.
I chose these three women because, on a subjective basis, I see them as the very early front runners in a race for the Democratic nomination. From a Caribbean policy perspective, the U.S. has been reactive to the area for decades and I see no major proactive initiative anytime soon from the Democrats or the Republicans for that matter.