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T&T dealt heavy diplomatic blows

Monday, April 2, 2018
Clyde Weatherhead

For the second time in just about three months, this country has been put in the position of another episode of diplomatic embarrassment.

At a recent OAS, in contradiction to the common position of our Caricom partners, the Trinidad and Tobago objected to hurricane-ravaged Dominica’s request for a two-year waiver of it fees to that organisation.

There was an immediate gasp of horror and condemnation of our country’s position nationally, regionally and further afield.

This week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement suggesting that the T&T position stated at the OAS meeting was “not aligned with the actions, policy or orientation of Trinidad and Tobago towards Dominica.”

If this country’s position presented by its representative at a hemispheric body is “not aligned to our country’s actions, policy or orientation”, then whose position was it?

No ambassador or representative at such bodies acts on important matters like this without direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But, obviously embarrassed, that Ministry is now investigating “the briefing arrangements of T&T’s representatives at the OAS meeting”.

What are they saying?

The Ministry or Minister did not brief the delegation?

The Ministry’s briefing was “taken out of context?

The delegation acted as renegades and took this country’s diplomacy into their own hands?

Whatever the excuse that will emerge, the fact is that this country’s diplomacy for the second time in just three months has embarrassed us as a nation.

No amount of blaming and shaming or apologies to the people of Dominica or the region will solve the problem.

On December 21 last year, at the United Nations, when the world took a stand against the US provocation of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy there, T&T representative abstained.

That was a blot on our country’s proud record in the UN and otherwise by the positions we have taken in opposing the US embargo on Cuba, on Apartheid and other issues. Such was our prestige in global affairs that our small country sat at the UN Security Council and had the respect of others, large and small.

We distinguished ourselves in the region when in 1983, we refused to join other regional nations in egging on the US in its military intervention in Grenada.

In the UN and now in the OAS, our diplomatic record is dealt two heavy blows.

Whether the Foreign Affairs investigation blames any individual for this latest embarrassment, it is clear that this is further evidence of the abyss into which our society and its blowsgovernance is rapidly descending.

In these times of degeneration in social order, one feature that is emerging is the tendency to suggest that the military can rescue the day for failing governance.

In the US and other countries, the Cabinet and top Executive positions are increasingly being populated with military men on the assumption that they are disciplined and will bring “order”.

In our own Government, there are several such ex-military or quasi-military persons, including in our diplomatic corps.

The Trump White House and administration has already demonstrated the fallacy of this notion of superior organisational and governance capability of the military personnel.

Our Governance needs renewal on a democratic basis.

Empowering the body politic in decision-making to favour the interests of the majority is vital to putting an end to this all-round degeneration.

The collapse in our social structure reflected in the collapse of our institutions, in rampant criminality, corruption and social and moral decay can only be ended with democratic renewal of our social and political processes–our governance arrangements. 

Clyde Weatherhead


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