Errol Barrow — Architect of a Collective CARICOM Foreign Policy

david_comissiong

A tribute by Ambassador David Comissiong

This coming Monday, the 21st of January 2019, is the 99th anniversary of the birth of Barbadian national hero Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, and will be celebrated in Barbados as “Errol Barrow  Day” – a national public holiday.

In light of the recent happenings in the Organization of American States (OAS) when, on having to deal with a Resolution that purported to delegitimize the inauguration of Nicolas Maduro as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, our CARICOM member states found themselves divided on the issue, with some of them voting for the Resolution, others voting against, and some abstaining, I would like to focus this tribute to Mr Barrow on his role as an architect of the concept of a collective CARICOM foreign policy.

It was at the historic Seventh Commonwealth Caribbean Heads of Government Conference held at Chaguaramas in Trinidad that the idea of converting the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), as well as the idea equipping the new CARICOM with a collective foreign policy were born.

The date was October 1972, and at that time there were only four independent Commonwealth Caribbean nations : namely, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados, and these newly independent states were led by Michael Manley, Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham, and Errol Barrow respectively.

It was a time of great tension in the affairs of the world – the United States of America (USA) was ablaze with anti-Vietnam war protests; the Black Power and anti-colonial challenges to national and international structures of domination were going strong; and the so-called “Cold War” between the USA and the Soviet Union was still at a dangerous peak.

Indeed, by 1972, the Caribbean had come to be regarded as one of the primary theatres of the “Cold War”, with the USA making every conceivable effort to isolate and subvert the revolutionary Fidel Castro-led government of Cuba.

We need to recall that when—in 1959—the Cuban Revolution triumphed, that the new revolutionary Cuban government entered a Western hemisphere environment that was organized around the OAS—a multi-lateral organization dominated by the USA and dedicated to a USA inspired anti-Communist mission.

Indeed, in 1954, at the instigation of a USA steeped in Mc Carthy era anti-Communism, the OAS had issued the “Declaration of Caracas” which declared that all Marxist revolutionary ideology was intrinsically alien to the Western Hemisphere, and that Marxist revolutionary movements were to be treated as foreign invasions of the Hemisphere.

It was not surprising therefore that as early as June 1959, the USA began pressing the OAS to take punitive actions against Cuba—a founder member of the OAS, but now led by a revolutionary socialist Government.

In August 1960, the USA not only orchestrated a condemnation of Cuba at the OAS on the ground of Cuba’s acceptance of economic assistance from the Soviet Union, but also urged Latin American states to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba – an urging that Venezuela and Colombia adhered to in 1961.

And then the “coup de grace” came in January 1962 when, at the 8th Consultative Meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers in Uruguay, the OAS suspended Cuba’s membership, thereby effectively expelling Cuba from the OAS!

This was then followed by the US compiling a so-called “black list” of all countries still trading with Cuba and threatening to cut off US economic and military assistance to them.

But even this was seemingly not enough for the anti-Cuba forces, and during the 9th Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers held in Washington DC in July 1964, a resolution was passed urging all governments of the Western Hemisphere to break diplomatic relations with Cuba.

And—sad to say—in the following years, every single Western Hemisphere nation except Mexico and Canada fell in line with the OAS stipulation and either broke diplomatic relations with Cuba or refused to recognize the revolutionary Republic of Cuba!

This then was the scenario facing the four independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries—all newly installed members of the OAS—in October 1972!

And, needless-to-say, the leadership of the OAS was insisting that the four new Caribbean member states must adhere to the by then well established, USA supported, policy of non-recognition and isolation of revolutionary Cuba.

The magnificent response of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow and his fellow Commonwealth Caribbean leaders—Manley, Williams and Burnham—was to issue the following historic Declaration:-

“The Prime Ministers of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, meeting together during the Heads of Government Conference at Chaguaramas, have considered the state of their relations with the Government of Cuba and the obligations which the OAS has sought to impose upon its members in regard to relations with that Government; and make the following statement:

(1)    The independent English-speaking Caribbean states, exercising their sovereign right to enter into relations with any other sovereign state and pursuing their determination to seek regional solidarity and to achieve meaningful and comprehensive economic cooperation amongst all Caribbean countries will seek the early establishment of relations with Cuba, whether economic, diplomatic or both.

(2)    To this end, the independent English-speaking Caribbean states will act together on the basis of agreed principles.”

Here then were the four smallest and youngest states of the entire Western hemisphere standing on principle; courageously speaking “truth to power”; and setting a noble and principled example for all the other nations of the hemisphere to follow!

Indeed, six months later—in April 1973 – Mr Barrow gave an address to the Empire Club of Toronto, Canada, and explained the significance of the unified Caribbean stance on Cuba as follows:-

“……we have managed in our four countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados to sustain our independence to the extent that we were considered to have committed an act of defiance in October last year when we took a lead in the western hemisphere in deciding to open diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, much to the chagrin of our neighbours to the north.

But it demonstrates that the developing countries can take a lead in conditioning the minds of people who should know better…………And I have no doubt that the other countries which are mightier and more powerful than the four small independent countries in the Caribbean will soon shamefacedly or not, have to follow suit……

And we cannot sit down in the Caribbean and wait for our strategy to be dictated or governed by the political or other economic or social prejudices of people in other countries because to entertain such a belief would be an abandonment of the sovereignty that we believe in and we have never subscribed to the doctrine of limited sovereignty. And I have been, myself, very firm right from the beginning of Barbados’ independence that we would be friends of all and satellites of none.”

Happy Errol Barrow Day to all my Barbadian and Caribbean brothers and sisters! Long may the spirit of Errol Barrow live in our beautiful sovereign Caribbean homeland!

 

215 comments

  • millertheanunnaki

    Now that Pres. Trump has recognized the Leader of the Opposition in Venezuela as the ‘people’s real president’ can we expect action similar to what took place in Panama and Grenada?

    Venezuela still has loads of oil reserves which can be commandeered to pay for the cost of the military invasion and rebuilding of the country.

    But would it be like Iraq Afghanistan?

    Or would it be like asking Mexico to pay for a wall of soldiers similar to a Roman occupation building and defending Hadrian’s wall?

    Like

  • WARU, Crazy & Unstable, Hogging the Blog

    Wannabe DICTATORS…always bring this on themselves…be warned..

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/23/enezuela-trump-president-juan-guaido-maduro-recognition-news-latest

    Hope the intent is not to make Venezuela pay fo the dummy trump’s wall.

    Like

  • Errol Barrow wake up. This country is in crisis. The mirror image gets uglier and uglier everday with daily shootings in broad daylight
    Country lacking in leadership
    Errol what are your thoughts on a leader hanging out with known low lifes.
    Jesus take the wheel.

    Like

  • Sir Simple Simon, P.C.

    Why don’t you let Barrow’s ashes rest in peace at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean?

    What is happening in Barbados in none of Barrow’s business.

    And he has no solutions to offer.

    Wunna D’s too believe in government by duppy.

    Like

  • What is the collective CARICOM position on Venezuela? What is the official Barbados position on Venezuela?

    Like

  • Hal

    You are wasting your time!!

    … then again, maybe not.

    The more idiotic among us who are programmed to make party political statements about EWB may actually start to think.

    The answers to your questions cannot be programmed!!

    Like

  • Winston O. Haynes was a solicitor in practice in High Street who operated in a partnership, Haynes and Griffith!!

    Like

  • And the Tudor mentioned is the father of Joe Tudor, still r-e-a-c-h-i-n-g to find the point in all this. Seems Symmonds was both the largest shareholder (initial) and the CEO.

    Like

  • The facade calls Caricom is not what Errol Barrow envisioned for tge Carribbean people
    What we have as Caricom is a bunch of tin horn dictators relentless in their pursuit of power.

    Like

  • Barbados Underground Whistleblower

    Dire situation

    group of Venezuelans living in Barbados is accusing local dignitaries of deliberately spreading propaganda on behalf of the Venezuelan government by returning with fake news reports on the country’s situation after government-sponsored trips to the country.

    Upset Venezuelans told Barbados TODAY that the “propaganda” was intended to give the impression that “everything is fine and dandy” in the country, which is widely reported as being in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, fuelled by a dictator
    .
    The local group came together near Accra Beach to protest the tenure of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – joining thousands of their countrymen living in 70 countries around the world, who are demanding that he be removed from office.

    Political activists, including Barbados’ ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), David Commissiong and General Secretary of the Friends of Venezuela Solidarity Committee, David Denny, have on numerous occasions defended the Maduro-led government of Venezuela amid continued criticism.

    However, some Venezuelans living in Barbados say their families are suffering in Venezuela and have dismissed the accounts of local activists.

    “A lot of local dignitaries say Venezuela is fantastic, but I invite them and I have invited them on social media, to go to Venezuela and live with a Venezuelan family. Take your wife with you and when your wife is going through that time of the month that every lady goes through, take her to a supermarket to find sanitary napkins. Take your child with you and when he gets a headache, try to get aspirin for the child; you won’t find it,” said Jose Zerba, who has been living in Barbados for over 30 years since migrating from Venezuela.

    Instead, Zerba accused the local dignitaries of doing a disservice with their accounts of the situation in the country

    The government of Venezuela will invite you to Venezuela for a week, so that you can come back and talk about Venezuela. You’re going to fly first class if you don’t go on a private aircraft. You’re going to stay as a guest of the government. You’re going to get all three of your meals and if you want champagne with breakfast, you can have that along with a private car to pick you up and take you where you want to go,” he said.

    Earlier this month, a number of Barbadians travelled to Venezuela to attend the January 10th Presidential Inauguration of Nicolas Maduro and reported that the election process was fair, despite reports from countless international media that the election was rigged.

    Maria Gloumeau, another Venezuelan protester, however, told Barbados TODAY that their families were “dying and crying” and when they go against the government are being killed and imprisoned.

    “We are supporting our Venezuelan people to take out Mr. Nicolas Maduro who has taken presidency as a dictator because he was not elected by the people.

    “The news that comes from Barbadians who go to Venezuela is usually from people who are taken there by the government. They see a different country to what exists. There’s no medicine, there’s no food, there’s a lot of insecurity, there’s nothing,” she said in despair.

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/01/23/dire-situation-2/

    Like

  • Barbados Underground Whistleblower

    YOU CAN FOOL SOME BAJANS SOMETIMES BUT NOT ALL BAJANS ALL THE TIME.

    THERE IS A REASON BAJANS HAVE NEVER ELECTED COMMISSIONG AND HIS ASSOCIATES.

    Like

  • But he is ambassador …
    when Mottley was made PM he got a little closer to one of his ambitions
    Having political clout throughout the Carribbean
    As a matter of fact his ear is much closer to knowning what is going on through out the carribbean nations than before
    Say what you like about Commisiong he is a chameleon

    Like

  • Britain ,once more interfering with the internal affairs of another country, has recognised the Opposition leader as president of Venezuela. What says CARICOM?

    Like

  • …. we now await our Ambassador’s words!!

    Like

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