A diving and salvage vessel of the U.S. Navy, the USNS Grasp, was at St. Kitts last week to conduct joint training exercises with Coast Guard. The ship’s captain was frank in praising the hospitality of the Caribbean destinations his vessel visited and it was good to see our local specialists getting more training.

As welcome as the U.S. Navy is, it begs the question: Where is the rest of the United States?

Although public and private sector officials in the Federation have been extremely reluctant to admit in public or on the record, many of them have noted that the level of participation by the U.S. government in the development of the Federation has tapered off in recent years, especially since the Bush Administration took over in 2001. While the U.S. private sector continues to see opportunities here, the government, while remaining helpful, doesn’t seem as interested as it previously did in St. Kitts and Nevis.

At one time, some officials said, there was a much stronger American presence in medicine, education and agriculture in the Federation. Now that presence has diminished and the void has been filled by other nations, notably Cuba and Taiwan.

The people and governments of Cuba and Taiwan have helped the Federation a great deal and the value of their contributions should not be diminished just because the U.S appears to be focusing elsewhere – like Iraq.

It also raises the question: What do other governments see that the U.S. does not?

In the future, we hope the United States and other powerful nations will again recognize the many advantages of helping developing nations. Aid is powerful engine of peace and prosperity for all. Of course, a look back at the Atlantic Charter of 1941, signed by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, sets out “Four Freedoms” that should be enjoyed by all people of the world:

-Freedom from want

-Freedom from fear

-Freedom of speech

-Freedom of religion

Those are four very good reasons for helping the nations that need help.

An Important Discussion

On August 12, the Nevis Independence Coalition Empowerment will hold a symposium beginning at 9 a.m. at the Red Cross Building in Charlestown. The program calls for discussion of an array of issues concerning the issue of independence for Nevis.

Anyone who has ever attended a symposium –whether required by a business or an educational requirement – will often shy away from attending another. That’s because such events often run to absurd lengths of boredom.

This symposium may be quite different.

In open, legal circumstances, men and women are coming together to talk about starting a new country. That doesn’t happen very often.

This symposium may be worth every minute, just to see history in the making.