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CARICOM Must Unify to Resist Imposition of OAS Boss | Sir Ronald Sanders

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OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro

By Sir Ronald
Sanders

WASHINGTON, United
States, Monday May 20, 2019
– Readers of this commentary, particularly those in small
countries, might wonder why they should be concerned about who is the Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) of any multilateral or international organization. It
could be claimed that the disposition of the person, holding such an office, is
far removed from the existence of people who are focussed on the necessities of
living and improving their lives.

They would be wrong to dismiss interest in the
holders of these positions.

Caribbean small states are already marginalised
in the world with little account being taken of the significant threats posed
to their well-being. Among those threats are climate change, global warming,
exclusion from access to concessional funds for development, very poor terms of
trade, increasing erosion of their sovereign rights over matters such as the
rate of taxes they charge and the incentives they offer to businesses so as to
remain globally competitive in the industries that provide employment and the
opportunity for ownership.

In this context, it is vitally important to
people in small and vulnerable countries that the CEO’s of inter-governmental
organizations are persons with a commitment to reducing poverty, advancing
economic development, improving access to education and training, and promoting
international arrangements that allow developing countries to compete in the
global community. It is also important that such CEO’s be genuinely interested
in safeguarding human rights, protecting citizens from abuse by governments,
and upholding democracy and freedom of expression.

These are the qualities that heads of
multilateral and international organizations should possess if they are to
serve the interests of the global community, particularly the people of small
and vulnerable nations.

Inevitably, however, governments of larger and
more powerful countries dictate the persons who end-up in these positions. These
governments select candidates, who serve their interests, and using their
greater financial resources and capacity to pressure others, they ensure their
appointments. 

In the cases of the International Monetary Fund
and the World Bank, the European Union and the US have long since arrogated the
posts of heads of these organizations to themselves through an understanding
between them that the US will hold the headship of the Bank and the Europeans
the headship of the Fund. Invariably, the holders of these posts are then in
thrall to their patrons and, over the decades of the existence of the two
organizations, few of them have strayed far from the positions of their
sponsors.

There are only a few organizations in which
Caribbean countries have a genuine opportunity to influence who is elected as
their chief executive. The Organization of American States (OAS) is one of
them.

Repeatedly, I have called for the 14 member
states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that are also members of the OAS,
to nominate one suitably qualified Caribbean candidate for the post of
Secretary-General or to agree on a non-Caribbean person who would be mindful of
the importance of Caribbean interests.

It is alarming that, counter to all electoral
arrangements that have ever been instituted for the election of the OAS
Secretary-General, certain governments are busy promoting the idea that, at the
OAS General Assembly in Colombia in June, 18 countries should force through the
re-election of the incumbent, Luis Almagro, for a second term – one year before
such an election is due, and for which no proper arrangements have been made. This
process is usually called “rigging”.

Such an action would be as unprecedented as it
would be wrong. A forced re-election of Mr Almagro, one year before an election
is due, would be highly improper. But, it could be done. The rules allow for
the nomination of a candidate up to the morning of the day an election is held.
And, if, as has been the recent experience, 18 countries vote to hold such an
election at the General Assembly in June, it can be done.

In this way, any possibility of an unprepared
CARICOM nominating a single Caribbean candidate or coalescing behind an
approved non-Caribbean candidate would be scuttled. The decision of the 18
would prevail, and the interests of the Caribbean and the Caribbean people
would be swept aside.

That is why Caribbean people should be
interested in this matter, and in the position that their governments take.

The behaviour of Mr Almagro as Secretary-General
of the OAS has left much to be desired. He is a very bright and clever man, and
with a different attitude, he might have served well the OAS and all its
member-states. But, instead of ending divisions by building bridges between
states and working to garner consensus within the organization, Mr Almagro has
become a divisive figure.

Further, his disregard for the Permanent
Council, which is comprised of the representatives of governments, and his
readiness to pronounce his own strongly-held views in the name of the OAS, have
compromised the organization, depriving it of a role in resolving conflicts
within member states of the organization and between them. Additionally, the
Caribbean has suffered under his stewardship through the absence of any
advocacy on his part to maintain funding for Caribbean programmes.

Beyond the necessity for a challenge to him,
given his record, his forced re-election by any foisted process would leave the
OAS in tatters. It may even cause some member states to reassess the value of
their continued membership of an organization which is ruled by the will of a
simple majority and the officers they impose.

For previous elections of a Secretary-General,
including Mr Almagro’s own election, the Permanent Council of the OAS put rules
and procedures in place. Amongst those rules were that a date for elections
would be set by the Permanent Council and member states would nominate
candidates who would make public presentations to the Organization on their
proposals and initiatives prior to the elections.

It has never been envisaged, as is being done
now by some governments, that the preparation for elections of the
Secretary-General would not follow established rules and that a fully democratic
process would not be adopted.

CARICOM states will have to assert themselves immediately in the OAS in nothing short of full regional solidarity and unity to insist on a Permanent Council meeting that sets the rules for the elections on a democratic and consensus basis. Anything less than full CARICOM unity will hurt the region’s interests.

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Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS.  He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto.

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Guyana and Ghana Sign Deal for Visa-Free Travel

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Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Karen Cummings (seated at left) and Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Botchwey, sign the bilateral agreements as Guyana’s President David Granger (left) and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo observe.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday June 12 , 2019 – Guyana and Ghana have signed an agreement that will allow citizens to travel to each other’s countries without need for visas.

The
visa waiver agreement was one of several bilateral agreements covering several
areas of mutual interest, which were signed yesterday after Ghana’s President
Nana Akufo-Addo arrived in the country for a two-day State visit.

Director
General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, told the media that the
abolition of visa requirements for citizens of the two states will apply to all
holders of diplomatic, official and regular Guyanese passports.

“In
the initial stages, they will be entitled to at least 90 days without having to
renew, but after 90 days then there will be a requirement for a renewal based
on the laws of the respective countries,” he explained.

Harmon
said one of the other agreements related to Ghana lending technical support to Guyana’s
oil and gas sector.

“The
President of Ghana made a very clear offer that they are prepared to assist
Guyana with technical cooperation with the personnel and so on to assist with
the development of the oil and gas sector,” he said.

“What
they did was to commit to paying salaries and transportation to get them here
and what we will need to do is find accommodation for them.”

Additionally,
agreements on trade and industry were signed as the West African territory
expressed interest in Guyana’s timber and rum industries.

The
agreements were all signed by Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Karen
Cummings and Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration
Shirley Botchwey, as President David Granger and President Akufo-Addo looked on.

President Akufo-Addo said there were “other areas of cooperation that we want to undertake – in education and transportation, a direct link between Accra and Georgetown”.

He made those comments as he met with the Ghana Diaspora and local representatives from African 0rganizations at the Marriott Hotel.

Diplomatic relations between Guyana and Ghana were officially established on May 14, 1979.

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US Citizen Charged for Defrauding Caribbean Immigrants in Work Permit and Green Card Scam

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NEW YORK, United States, Wednesday June 12, 2019 – A New York resident has been charged with defrauding immigrants from Jamaica and St Kitts, taking more than US$8,000 from them under the pretense that he could get them green cards and work permits, and then threatening to report them after they asked back for their money.

Brooklyn
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez yesterday announced that James Archibald, 55, has
been charged with grand larceny, scheme to defraud, immigration assistance
services fraud, and related charges, for allegedly stealing US$8,520 from three
undocumented immigrants who hired him to process work permits and green card
applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS).

“This
defendant is accused of preying on some of the most vulnerable members of our
society who were victimized as they attempted to comply with federal laws,”
Gonzalez said.

Archibald,
a resident of Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York, was arraigned before Brooklyn
Criminal Court Judge Joseph McCormack on a 10-count criminal complaint in which
he is charged with third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny,
first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree immigration assistance services
fraud, and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was released
without bail and ordered to return to court on August 8th, 2019.

Archibald
faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

The
District Attorney said that, according to the complaint, between October 2016
and May 2018, the defendant, who was the owner of a company called US Caribbean
and Asian Development Organization, allegedly stole US$8,520 from three undocumented
immigrants who paid him to process and expedite work permit and green card
applications on their behalf with USCIS.

The
victims met the defendant through mutual acquaintances. After receiving the
payments, the victims repeatedly contacted the defendant, but he failed to
provide the promised services and they tried to get their money back. It is
alleged that the defendant told the victims that if they persisted in pursuing
refunds he would report them to USCIS. He also allegedly failed to return the
passports of two victims.

The investigation began in January 2019 after two of the victims filed complaints against Archibald with the District Attorney’s Action Center, which put them in contact with the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Unit.

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Fly to Heathrow Airport with American Airlines!

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Insights from Going Places Travel, the preferred travel agency of American Airlines

American
Airlines offers flights to London Heathrow Airport connecting through Miami
International Airport. The Miami to London Heathrow connection is aboard the
Boeing 777 300 ER, a beautiful aircraft vessel which is the flagship product
from American Airlines. This aircraft boasts completely separate cabins for
each seating category: there is a dedicated restroom for business class which
is separated from Premium Economy and Main Cabin, which also have their own
separate restrooms. All Business class seats have direct aisle access thanks to
the 1-2-1 configuration of the cabin and are all lie-flat seats.

Got a layover? Relax before
the runway.

Make the most of your layover with American’s Admirals Club where you will find everything you need to recharge before your next flight.

In the stylish Admirals Club, you will find meals, house drinks, snacks, made-to-order specialties, fast internet just for Admiral Club members, all the charging outlets you could possibly need, a dedicated ticket desk and arguably best of all, shower suites to get refreshed before the next leg of your journey. The Admiral’s Club also comes equipped comfortable seating including lie-flat chairs for you to rest up while you wait for your flight.

Admirals Club
is available for customers in Qualifying First or Business class, Qualifying
AAdvantage Executive Plantinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum members. However, you
can also purchase an Admirals Club One-Day Pass for $59 USD and get access to
all of its wonderful amenities for that day.

Prefer to shop while you wait for your connecting flight?

Taking the
morning flight to Miami will mean you will have quite a few hours to enjoy
Miami to its maximum before your connecting flight to London. There are many
fantastic shopping options close to the airport but the most popular of them
all is – of course – Dolphin Mall! Miami International Mall is also another
great option which is closer to the airport. If you are interested in
sightseeing, Wynwood Walls is a great location to visit for the best
Instagram-worthy pics.

But bear in
mind that you have to be back at the terminal gate with time to spare before
your connecting flight to ensure you make it in time.

Interested in flying to London with American Airlines? Remember that Going Places Travel is a preferred travel agency of American Airlines, with travel advisors who collectively have over 100 years of combined experience.

Contact your preferred Travel Advisor today at 431-2430.

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