By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
(Basseterre, St .Kitts)”A senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, doesn’t think that Caribbean leaders should sit back and expect a whole lot from an administration led by President-Elect Barack Obama. “I notice that there is a lot of discussion about what he can do for us or what his administration can do for us. That question is being asked all over the world. I do not think that we should expect a lot from an Obama presidency. We have to work it out for ourselves,” Dr. Vaughn Lewis said. Professor Lewis is a former Prime Minister of St. Lucia and one-time Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Professor Lewis” comments came at a press conference to close the 40th Annual Monetary Studies Conference on Nov.14 at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. Along with Professor Lewis was Executive Director of the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance, Dr. DeLisle Worrell and Governor of the ECCB, Sir Dwight K. Venner. The Conference ran from November 11-14. The theme of the conference was “Economic Transformation in a Post-Independent Caribbean: What can we learn from Sir Arthur Lewis?” Tuesday Online Code for Issue # 734 is BAG Instead of asking what an Obama presidency can do for us in the Caribbean, the question should be what can we do for ourselves, Professor Lewis said. “I think we need to turn it the other way around and ask what the priorities that we have had over time are that we consider important in our relations. What are the possibilities we ourselves have, realizing that we don’t have a lot of diplomatic weight in the American political mind? What is it that we can do to begin to seek relations with countries in our hemisphere with whom we can network in seeking eventually to influence the United States in what we want,” Professor Lewis said. Professor Lewis said that President Bill Clinton, who was a Democrat, was particularly harsh in his relations with the small island Caribbean states with respect to the banana industry. “Clinton was particularly harsh in consideration of our views and our positions and that is so because we have to understand that the American political machine and the American system has a manner and procedure of running in which there is independence of activities on the part of the president, the congress and the judiciary,” he said. “The president may like something but the “runnings” in the congress may not permit it.” Professor Lewis thinks that we have to decide on how we are going to approach trade relations with the US. “We are in the midst really of having to decide on how we approach the question of trade relations with the US because we are in a sense already encircled by the fact of other agreements that the US has made, in particular, the free trade agreement that involves Central America and the Dominican Republic.” “We need to work out now what are the steps and what is the institutional machinery that we need to allow us to work in a systematic way to influence the American political and decision making machinery. Not so much to influence the president, who is the peak of that, because even he has to come down to beg sometimes.” Professor Lewis thinks that Caribbean Leaders need to band together and present a sense of unity among themselves on particular issues of common interest. “What are the steps we really need to take now? What extent of cohesion among the Caribbean countries is required? If it requires cohesion, what are our separate interests, because not all of us may have the same interests now?” he asked.””” Professor Lewis thinks that Caribbean Leaders should give themselves one or two years to work those things out because inevitably we would have to come to something, especially on trade. “The fact of the matter is that we have not had a lot of help of the kind that we have wanted from the US,” he said.
Expert: Caribbean Should Not Expect Much From Obama Presidency
By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter