Media Matters…………   “Politics as Usual” – SVG

Keywords; ULP; Unity Labour Party, NDP; New Democratic Party, SVG; St Vincent and the Grenadines

 I remember in 2008 the global financial crisis the World and a new President was elected into the White House. President Barack Obama was inaugurated on January, 20, 2009 amidst the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

However, I remembered, quite clearly, when a senior United States Senator from Kentucky and member of the Republican Party, now Senate Majority Leader “Mitch McConnell said; “Our mission for the next Four(4) Years is to make sure that President Barack Obama doesn’t get a Second Term. Not fixing the economy nor passing reforms to ameliorate the housing crisis and so on. Why? Because the Republicans had no policies/plans in place envisage improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

Today, in St Vincent and the Grenadines the NDP opposition Leader the Hon. Arnhim Eustace political rhetoric is liken to that of Mitch McConnell back in 2009. Mr. Eustace inability to highlight non-existing faults with a party that have govern the country for the last 15 years, only stands as proof that St Vincent and the Grenadines under the governance of the ULP Government have in fact improved substantially. Amidst the 2008 global financial crisis we’ve noticed more people matriculating to Universities abroad & indigent poor reduced to 2.9% from 25.7%.

Now, no one is perfect and of course at times there will be set backs. Especially when building a major project like an International Airport envisage reducing St Vincent and the Grenadines vulnerabilities.  St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island developing state with a GDP of approx. $1.184 billion (2014 EST.). Moreover, our annual budget sits at approx. $185.2 million. Hence, we do not have the economic capabilities in order to complete the International Airport at a much quicker pace as we would love to, but, the idea is not to rush such an important project. Rather, it is to improve the Lives of all Vincentians in the long term. However, the contemporary political atmosphere emboldens this sort of tendency to employ “political bigotry” aim at distracting you the people from the broader goal of establishing the Argyle International Airport, by way of, constantly speaking on the issue of “Timeline or deadline missed”.

As of late; the NDP Opposition Leader “Arnhim Eustace” embarked on a Garifuna campaign envisage winning the next general election. However, Mr. Eustace seems to be running for the Prime Minister of a “Garifuna Nation State” instead of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Opposition Leader seems to have enlisted the assistance of Mr. Ramos in regards to matters concerning “Garifuna issues”. It is important to note that; Mr. Ramos is not on any UN Envoys/Mission appointed by the UN Security council nor adopted in the General Assembly to advocate on matters pertaining to Garifuna….nor does he have the rights to speak on matters pertaining to St Vincent and the Grenadines be it Garifuna or any other matters. Also, there are no International Laws which speaks of any sort of inherent rights to Garifuna as it relates to “Honorary Citizenship” or any nationality of that matter.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1949) speaks of everyone has the right to a nationality” and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality”. However, this is pertaining to the protection of the Citizens of the relevant State.

However, “Garifuna” fiasco seems to be mixed with confusion, excitement and even severity, but, the differing emotions varies across party lines. However, As a citizen of St Vincent and the Grenadines I am concerned about the economic, social and security impacts it would have on my Island, if we are to grant some approx.. 800,000 individuals – view on…[Garifuna] “Honorary citizenship”.

Also, I must admit that I’ve enjoyed some of the most laughable moments I have ever seen on the “internet” and in politics as it relates to the NDP and their Opposition Leader Mr. Eustace. However, I have become somewhat bemoaned and quite frankly ashamed by an incompetent Opposition Leader. Arnhim Eustace is neither opposition nor is he a Leader, but, rather the complete “opposite” of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Mr. Eustace and the NDP supporters miss the point of what a general election is all about. This upcoming election is not about the “Candidates”, but, rather it’s about You and Me, the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Governments should work for us not against us. So when an Opposition Leader who wants to someday be the head of government refuses to answer the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines questions, whom in which he intends to govern is something of grave concern and worry.

The NDP Supporters like to make reference to the “Bigger Bigs” Case in an attempt to substantiate their claims that, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP Government have done the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines wrong. Here they clearly miss the point again; Government should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but, for every Vincentian who is willing to work and be honest. Bigger Biggs was dishonest and took advantage of St Vincent and the Grenadines for years; making a lot of money while paying little to no taxes and selling his commodity to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines at a high price.

Good Governance, not only means people in political office must be held “accountable”, but, also civil societies, private sectors and we the people must all account for our actions. The NDP supporters must be held accountable for their disruptive behavior on July.20.2014 (E.G Lynch Funeral) and for the total disregard in respect to “the rule of Law” (violation of our Christian Tradition).

Promise kept: “Good Governance”

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves once said “we should fly like an eagle with our wings unclipped” in reference to bringing Universal access to Education. We’ve seen the Education Revolution Act (2005) did just that. By making education more “equal and equitable” for ALL Vincentians. The ULP have tapped into technology making Government more “Efficient, Effective and improved transparency”. In our recent, December.24.2013 flooding that saw families and friends lost love ones, Homes destroyed an a double digit hit (approx.13%)  to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) , we’ve noticed a more “responsive” government.

The Hon Dr. Ralph Gonsalves took the time out to return home and stand with families and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines whom lost loves ones. The ULP Government responded with a “Housing Revolution” initiative that saw so many people receive Houses that they’ve lost ensued by the December 2013 flooding and have since broaden the initiative to include members of society who are at a disadvantage either economically, physically and mentally.

On that note; we’ve seen a society that is more inclusive and a government whose policies promotes “Equity and Inclusiveness”. President Barack Obama said at the recent Panama Summit (2015) in addressing “Civil Societies” that; “We know that economies attract more Trade and Investments when citizens are free to start a new business without paying a bribe”. We’ve noticed this under the ULP Government lead by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. For instance, “St Vincent and the Grenadines FDI (Foreign Direct investment) sat at $34 million USD in 2002, but, FDI sits at $115.4 Million USD as of 2012” (CARICOM; FDI 2002 -2013 Report, 2014).

St Vincent and the Grenadines as a SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is fashioned with a range of “Vulnerabilities”. Our small size makes it difficult for us to have a “wider tax space” and consumer base. Thus, making us dependent on external markets if we are to see real economic growth. The Argyle International Airport is a vital infrastructure that will see increase in areas of Trade, Investments and Tourism. Moreover, we’ve seen Min. Foreign Affairs et al Camillo MIchael Gonsalves embarked on a mission that will see Vincentians with less travel restrictions (Visa Free to 26 Countries in the Schengen Zone).

St Vincent and the Grenadines is also, vulnerable to Natural Disasters and under the ULP Government we’ve noticed more resilient building policies envisage mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Our vulnerabilities are also exacerbated by “exogenous shocks” such as; “Financial shocks” and the 2008 Global Financial crisis hit countries economy around the globe and especially developing states were some of the worse hit. We’ve seen St Vincent and the Grenadines under the ULP Government displayed a leadership role in the U.N. Conference on the Global Economic and Financial Crisis. At home no one was lay off or fired from the “Public Sector” meanwhile Barbados had to fire some 3000 public servant and even St Lucia and Bahamas saw lay offs of approximately 1000 employees.

– Emmanuel Quashie

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Obama Doctrine; “We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

July 20th, 2015  – “Double Up”

– United States & Cuba relations; UN Security Council vote on Iran Nuclear Deal;

The United States and Cuba are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cuban Americans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11.27 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. However, what was evidently clear is that; decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish the U.S. enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. In addition, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba inadvertently isolated the United States from regional and international partners. Furthermore, it constrained the United States ability to influence any positive outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere. Albeit, the policy at the time may have been rooted in the best of intentions it however had little effects today as it did in 1961.

On the other hand, Cuba endured nearly half-a- century of enmity, crippling trade embargo, and a series of American devious stratagems. Moreover, Cuba was cut off from international trade, but, Cubans had come to learn how to live with limited resources. In addition, and worth mentioning of course – is that despite the odds Cuba had come to developed one of the finest health care systems in the world. For instance, Cuba has become the first country to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby. This health achievement was so great that the World Health Organisation hailed it as “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” (WHO, 2015). In addition, Cuba’s Art and culture, particularly music, flourished under the communist rule. In spite of sanctions, Cuba was still able to attract international tourists amidst it rich cultural heritages and pristine beaches.

For instance, some 3 million tourists visited Cuba, more than every other Caribbean nation besides the Dominican Republic, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. However, Cuba saw Nearly 2 million tourists visiting the island in the first 6 months of 2015 resulting in billions of dollars in revenue for the country.

CARICOM…….. Exuberance

Of course, one can’t talk about the Cuban strength and tenacity amidst the American embargo without mentioning our CARICOM brother and Sisters who welcomes the normalization between U.S. and Cuba. For instance, CARICOM stood in solidarity with Cuba fighting against the U.S. Embargo and making their voices heard loudly in the halls of the international community. For example, in 1972 it was Leaders such as; Michael Manley (Jamaica), Eric Williams (Trinidad & Tobago), Errol Barrow (Barbados) and Sir Shridath Surendranath (Guyana) whose overt diplomatic relations with Cuba amidst the “Cold War” that enfeebled the hemispheric Embargo placed on Cuba by the United States.

Moreover, CARICOM member States recently pushed for Cuba’s inclusion into the Summit of the America’s in Panama (2015). For instance, St Vincent and the Grenadines Min. of Foreign Affairs et al. Camillo Gonsalves; in his address at the Summit of the America’s 2014,vehemently advocated for Cuba’s inclusion and full participation in the 2015 Summit of the America’s hosted in Panama.

Owing to Cuba’s strength, regional solidarity and a fail outdated U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba, President Barack Obama embark on reversing the U.S. failed embargo. This of course was done through months of secret negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba. In which, President Obama envisage dissolving the most fraught diplomatic relationship in the Western Hemisphere. The negotiations not only involved high level members from both the United States and Cuba, but, also Pope Francis who helped mediate the normalization process. However, let’s not to get mired in all the details leading up to U.S. – Cuba normalization and spill the long awaited good news.

On July 20th, 2015, Washington and Havana took a long awaited and significant step towards charting a new course in their Nations historic relations. As of July, 20th, 2015 the United States and Cuba officially resume diplomatic ties for the first time in 54 years. Further, the United States reopened its embassy in Havana on Monday, followed by Cuba who raised a flag outside its own stately embassy in Washington.

What’s next……? There will be an increase in U.S. Embassy Staffs and the Cuban government must allow U.S. Embassy staff to move around without restrictions (in accordance with the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations & other responsibilities of Diplomats) in order to carry out our duties effectively. U.S. staffs must be able to carry out high-level exchanges and have visits between both governments, meet with civil societies and religious leaders and so on.

Amidst the establishment of diplomatic relations, may follow talks on U.S. current immigration policy toward Cuba, reflected in the so-called 1994 and 1995 migration accords set forth in the current “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy or the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA). In addition, the increased engagement will expand the U.S. and Cuba economic relationship and strengthen their people to people connections. Especially, in areas pertaining to; “inter allia” – travel, investments, increasing of remittances, expanding commercial sales/exports from the United States of certain goods and services and help empower the nascent Cuban private sector.

A Brevity; Iran Nuclear Deal:

 Building a nuclear bomb requires either uranium or plutonium. Iran would needs two key elements to construct a uranium bomb: tens of thousands of centrifuges and enough highly enriched uranium to produce enough material to construct a uranium bomb. The Natanz facility and the Fordow facility currently enrich uranium and Iran has a Uranium stockpile that create 8 to 10 Nuclear Bombs.

Under the Iran Nuclear Deal; Iran must reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98%, and will keep its level of uranium enrichment at 3.67%. Significantly, below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb. Iran has nearly 20,000 centrifuges between their Natanz and Fordow facilities. However, under the Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran must reduce its centrifuges to 6,104 for the next 10 years.

No enrichment will be allowed at the Fordow facility at all, and the only centrifuges Iran will be allowed to use are their oldest and least efficient models. Most importantly, what is blocked? Highly enriched Uranium at Natanz facility; highly enriched Uranium at Fordow facility; Weapons-Grades Plutonium and covert attempts to produce fissile material – Are All Blocked. So in a nutshell, the Iran Nuclear Deal cuts off all Iran’s potential pathways to a Nuclear Bomb.

       More in-depth details can be found on Whitehouse.gov/ issue/Foreign Policy/Iran –Deal

The historic agreement struck between Iran and six world powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany on July 14th 2015 had a few hurdles to overcome (still does – Congress approval).

However, July 20th, 2015 not only saw formal Diplomatic Relations between Washington and Havana, but, a move that will bring the Iran Nuclear Deal signed on July 14th to an important step. On July 20th the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved (15-0) a resolution that creates the basis for international economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted.

– Emmanuel Quashie 

Caribbean & U.S. misunderstood relationship…..? & “It’s better than Nothing” mantra

The United States of America employs a method of “good neighbor Policy”, albeit misunderstood ever so often by it’s so called third Border States or is it that the Caribbean Basin have a proclivity to always act out of expediency. For instance, the Caribbean basin also known as the “Third Border” is haunted by high energy cost and our family to the south provided us with a tangible alternative to combat the said energy problem. As a result, Caribbean states inadvertently play politics and become “bangwagonist” standing in solidarity with our Latin brothers and sisters even when the issue have little to do with the merits of the said issue.

For instance, Venezuela PetroCaribe program have provided a substantial amount of aid to Caribbean states in times of economic plight ensued by the 2008 global financial, but, by virtue of our own policies exacerbated our economic predicament. Case in point, “according to the IMF, Venezuela has provided Jamaica aid averaging about 2.5% of Jamaica’s GDP over the past three years through its Petrocaribe program”( Al Jazeera, 2015) . Thus, Caribbean Member states are likely to look pass the fail economic policies and the perpetual violation of fundamental human rights and international law (Venezuela – Guyana dispute) once their economic interest are served.

The irony is, the said interest are being served by the United States through programs such as; the Caribbean Basin Initiatives (1983), which rids the Monroe doctrine of 1823. The cold war was an ideological war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (its nuclear equipped counterpart), but, the Caribbean being in close proximity to the United States we inadvertently played a vital role in regards to reducing the spread of communism (set forth in the 1983 CBI)  and the Cuban missile crisis (1962). The United States reaction to Venezuela in my view have little to do with the reliving of the Cold War, but, more so to do with trying to reverse Nicolas Maduro recent “decree of Power” which will in turn allow him to create a repressive legal framework and violate fundamental human rights. However, the Caribbean community lack the political efficacy, courage and political will to speak the truth amidst fears of losing their “petroCaribe Aid. So like Venezuela they join in and blame “external actors” the so called “imperialist” United States of America.

Brevity of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (1983)

The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) is a broad program to promote economic development through private sector initiative in Central American and Caribbean countries. A major goal of the CBI is to expand foreign and domestic investment in non-traditional sectors, thereby diversifying CBI country economies and expanding their exports. Note: as of October 2000 there are 24 CBI beneficiary (Department of Commerce, 2000). Countries including both Central America and the Caribbean and the CBI was a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the CBI countries meaning that they couldn’t trade across with each other.

The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act of 1983 (CBERA) (amended in 1990) and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act of 2000 (CBTPA), collectively known as CBI, provides customs duty-free entry to the United States on a permanent basis for a broad range of products from CBI beneficiary countries. The most recent piece of CBI legislation, the CBTPA, provides beneficiary countries certain trade benefits similar to Mexico’s under the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” –  U.S. Department of Commerce, 2000.

Some Facts:

The United States has run a trade surplus with CBI beneficiaries every year since 1985. In 1998, U.S. exports to CBI countries totalled $19.2 billion, up 12.2% over 1997 levels. In 1998, the U.S. trade surplus with CBI beneficiaries was $2 billion, a 68% increase over 1997. For the first six months of 1999, the U.S. trade surplus with the region was $830 million. U.S. exports to the CBI beneficiary countries reached $18.5 billion in 2010. The value of U.S. exports to CBERA countries grew 27.6 percent in 2010, exceeding the growth rate for total global U.S. exports, which grew 19.8 percent. – U.S. Department of Commerce, 2000

On the other hand, The CBI currently provides beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. So in other words, CBI countries have duty free (preferential tax) access to a market of “317 million people” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Apparel and clothing accessories have become the largest U.S. import from CBI countries. U.S. imports of apparel from CBI countries, both knitted and non-knitted, totalled $8.2 billion in 1998, 48% of total CBI exports to the United States. – U.S. Department of Commerce, 2000.

Traditional Caribbean exports remain an important source of income and, especially, employment for the region. CBI traditional exports accounted for 18.8% of total U.S. imports from the region in 1998. Major product categories included: edible fruits and nuts; coffee, tea and spices; fish and shellfish and; tobacco. – U.S. Department of Commerce. Take for example, traditional exports will contribute to St Vincent and the Grenadines 5.4% of GDP and 26% of employment (Agriculture), evidence that although United States core interest may be one of security concern doesn’t mean that they are not interested in the economic development of the “third Border” states. For example, President Obama give a speech on his recent trip to Jamaica enroute to the 2015 America’s Summit in Panama, in which he stated; pledge to give $70 Million to the America’s. However, some were quick to criticize the President’s visit and announcement saying it’s an attempt to isolate Venezuela and re-establishing a “Cold War” mantra, but, if the United States hadn’t give anything we would still lambaste them for neglecting us.

“At least it is better than Nothing”

In our contemporary Caribbean community, it has become somewhat customary of us as a nation of people to live by such a code – “at least it is better than nothing”. Without being cognizant, that these “words” inadvertently debase our dignity as people of a Democracy. Why are so many Caribbean countries still playing catch up amidst so many preferential treatments and aid support….? (Some mentioned in earlier paragraphs). The Caribbean often rejoice over the mere fact that we don’t witness uprisings, militia extremism, terrorism, violent protests and any other sort of action that detest and try to fight against the social ills ensued by bad governance. I say it is time for us as a region to hold our Leaders accountable and embolden more responsiveness and stop cowering behind Party Colors. Why can’t I see a GDP per capita (average income of persons) that reflects the reality of our Caribbean society, instead of one that is incongruous to our reality. After all, Qatar GDP per capita sits at $144,000 which reflects its reality, but, most Caribbean countries GDP per capita do not.

Many Political Leaders will make the argument that our “lack of political will”…….sorry they wouldn’t be so honest; instead they’ll say that our inability to inject more money into the economy to address our basic social needs are the corollary of external factors beyond our control. Albeit, statements like that may hold some truths (not that much), it is a classic tale of political spin. The motive, is to provide the listener/reader with what sounds like a very intelligent answer envisage bewildering you in seconds that you forget what you were trying to address. Let use examples close to home, Trinidad and Tobago is not immune to external actors, nor is Bermuda whose GDP per capita sits $31,000 & $85,000 respectively.

Some will say that Trinidad & Tobago has an important natural resource (OIL), but, so is Nigeria and their GDP per capita sits at $6,100 (dutch disease). Critics may say that Nigeria has a much larger population than that of Trinidad meanwhile negating that Nigeria also has a much larger economy than Trinidad. Nigeria GDP sits at $1.058 Trillion while Trinidad and Tobago sits at $42.23 Billion, thus making the critic irrelevant.

However, there was a reason I insert Bermuda because unlike Trinidad & Tobago it doesn’t enjoy that glut of natural resources (OIL).

Instead, most of its money derives from Tourism and international business sector. However, Tourism which contributes some 5.2% to Bermuda GDP makes up the larger sector of its work force. Thus, many Caribbean countries really have no excuse to get their S**T right and start doing their jobs that they were elected to do. Both the ones in Government and the opposition party who have won their seats.

Moreover, it is time for the citizens of the Caribbean who are not in an office of power, but, nonetheless you play a vital role in putting people there to govern your affairs. I know many are afraid to speak out amidst fear of being ostracize ensued by politics. We’ve noticed the power of the people around the world from the “Civil Rights” to the “Arab Spring” movements, which either change Government policies to bringing down Dictatorship regimes. The irony is, when we speak of democracy we speak of the Caribbean as a shining example of Democracy. However, I am starting to think that our Caribbean governments are Democratic, but, our governance is evocative to the governance witness in communist/autocratic states.

Emmanuel Quashie

Disclaimer:

This article is solely the thoughts of the Writer and has nothing to do with politics per se. More so, it was done on the basis of purely critical analysis.

The Iran Nuclear Deal & debunking the North Korea (conservative) myths.

The Iran Nuclear Deal…….

The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Involved Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers U.S., France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia. The negotiations encompasses coming to a consensus on a political framework followed by implementations that would be tied to a gradual easing of sanctions against Tehran.

“After many months of principled diplomacy, the P5+1 — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — along with the European Union, have achieved a long-term comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran that will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful going forward.” – WhiteHouse.gov, 2015.

A Brevity; Iran Nuclear Deal:Building a nuclear bomb requires either uranium or plutonium. Iran would needs two key elements to construct a uranium bomb: tens of thousands of centrifuges and enough highly enriched uranium to produce enough material to construct a uranium bomb. The Natanz facility and the Fordow facility currently enrich uranium and Iran has a Uranium stockpile that create 8 to 10 Nuclear Bombs.

Under the Iran Nuclear Deal; Iran must reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98%, and will keep its level of uranium enrichment at 3.67%. Significantly, below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb. Iran has nearly 20,000 centrifuges between their Natanz and Fordow facilities. However, under the Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran must reduce its centrifuges to 6,104 for the next 10 years. No enrichment will be allowed at the Fordow facility at all, and the only centrifuges Iran will be allowed to use are their oldest and least efficient models. Most importantly, what is blocked? Highly enriched Uranium at Natanz facility; highly enriched Uranium at Fordow facility; Weapons-Grades Plutonium and covert attempts to produce fissile material – Are All Blocked. So in a nutshell, the Iran Nuclear Deal cuts off all Iran’s potential pathways to a Nuclear Bomb.

       More in-depth details can be found on Whitehouse.gov/ issue/Foreign Policy/Iran -Deal

Debunking; the North Korea Agreed Framework (1994) comparison to the Iran Nuclear Deal (2015).

These flawed comparisons failed to note several key differences between the substance of the two agreements and between the situations of the two countries at the time the deals were made. The Iran Nuclear deal is much more detailed than the North Korea Agreed Framework (1994) which was about 4 pages in length. Moreover, both countries circumstances are different. State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf   stated; “the comparison is just – they’re completely different things, and I’m happy to talk through why a little bit. The comprehensive deal we are seeking to negotiate with Iran is fundamentally different than what we did in terms of our approach to North Korea.”

In support of her claim; in the early 1990s, North Korea had already produced weapons-grade plutonium prior to agreeing to limited IAEA inspections. Important to note; that after the agreed Framework with North Korea (1994) only agreed to more intrusion some 8 years later which was in 2002. On the other hand, the Iran Nuclear deal puts in place immediate inspections plus they also have additional protocols in place.

In addition; according to Paul Pillar, non-resident senior fellow for both the Center for Security Studies and the Brookings Institution, said that; “The Agreed Framework was a sketchy four-page document that provided for little in the way of monitoring and enforcement. In contrast, the leading feature of the Iran Nuclear agreement being negotiated with Iran is its unprecedented degree of monitoring and inspections. Moreover, the final agreement will have an enforcement and dispute resolution mechanism consistent with the Additional Protocol pertaining to work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Also, I realize that a lot of people are missing a key component in the Iran Nuclear deal which sets it apart from the North Korea (1994). Unlike North Korean Agreement, “The P5+1 Are Unified In Wanting To Prevent Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons.  For instance, all members of the P5+1, including Russia and China, are involved and invested in the deal, unlike the bilateral North Korean deal between only the U.S. and North Korea (CEIP, 2015). Thus, the 1994 North Korea Agreed Framework was a bilateral negotiations between the United States and the DPRK alone. The 1994 Agreed Framework did not involve the other P5 nor did they invested in it and its enforcement.

This time round, according to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2015); the P5+1 perceive major national and collective interests in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and in upholding the NPT. For instance, each of the P5+1 member states has invested national interest in demonstrating that their collective effort can mitigate a threat to international peace and security.

This is explicitly demonstrated in the P5+1 actions such as; authorizing and enforcing an unprecedented array of economic sanctions on Iran. So the collective actions thus far only validates reason to believe that, they all are prepared to hold Iran accountable to the terms of the Nuclear agreement (July. 14. 2015).

Emmanuel Quashie

Commonwealth SIDS & Climate Change; Who are the “Stakeholders”……

#SIDS #ClimateChange    “Policy Brief”

Key Terms; SIDS: Small Island Developing States, PAHO: Pan American Health Organisation, WHO: World Health Organisation, CCS: Commonwealth Caribbean States, SVG: St Vincent and the Grenadines, UNISDR: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction reports, ECLACs: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

Executive Summary

National disasters is an inevitable “thorn” that causes a catastrophic amount of damages in any state or region. Furthermore, it stymies any chance for economic growth within a state and makes it even more difficult for developing states to improve their livelihoods. For instances, “more than 2.7 billion people were affected and more than $1.3 Trillion were lost between the years of 2000 and 2011 due to natural disasters”[1]. However, there are ways in which government, insurance and community can mitigate the effects caused by natural disasters. For instance, Governments can improve natural disaster warning systems, review government policies, private sector can provide affordable risk insurance and improve disaster awareness in the community.

However, the severe damages ensued in the wake of natural disasters was evidently clear by UNISDR statistics, but, only highlights the impacts at the global level. Albeit factual, it does not necessarily highlight the impacts on Commonwealth Caribbean States (CCS). Thus, for this “policy briefing” I will be focusing on “CCS” vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Commonwealth Caribbean States have a number of “vulnerabilities” such as; lack of diversification, openness, market size and geographical location. Also, in the Commonwealth Caribbean States “exogenous shocks are becoming an almost annual occurrence” as stated by Minister of Foreign Affairs, SVG, Camillo Gonsalves in reference to Minister Peter Phillips at the annual ECLACs conference 2014[2]. Also, Min. Gonsalves stated in reference to Minister Peter Phillips, “that the average occurrence in Jamaica is every other year they experience a “climate shock”[3]. So in other words, the vulnerability of Commonwealth Caribbean states are severely impacted by the burgeoning events of natural disasters and or “climate shocks”.

Take for instance; “CCS” geographical location makes them vulnerable to “climate shocks” amid they are at the forefront of global warming. To support this, St Vincent and the Grenadines in the last 4 years had the following; a drought causing 11% damage to GDP mainly to agriculture, Hurricane Thomas 13% damage to GDP, December 2013 Flood result in 10% damage to GDP and most recent flood estimated at 17% damage to GDP[4]. Thus, such major hits to GDP ensued by “climate shocks” are not trivial concerns amid “the regions annual growth have been either “flat or negative”, while getting double-digit hits to GDP” ensued by natural disasters[5].

Government Role; There are many vulnerabilities to Commonwealth Caribbean states. For example, St Vincent suffer from the vulnerabilities of openness, small size and lack of diversification amid limited natural resources. In addition to that, St Vincent is unable to access sufficient financing due to its “middle income state status”. While, St Vincent vulnerabilities are further exacerbated by “climate shocks”. Climate shocks make it more difficult for governments of “CCS” to maintain economic stability and improve the social welfare of their state. Because they have to allocate funds to clean up the effects caused by unexpected and severe natural disasters. Although, the occurrence of natural disasters can’t be prevented, the impacts however, can be mitigated. Governments can put in place policies and sophisticated warning systems that are “proactive” rather than “responsive”. Case in point, the trough storm on December 24, 2013 affected “more than 30,000 people in St Vincent and St Lucia”[6] and resulted in a “15% ($108 million) damage to St Vincent GDP mostly in agriculture”[7]. The point is to highlight, as Commonwealth Caribbean states there is real need to review government’s policies on “disaster risk management”.

Recommendation; Governments of the Commonwealth Caribbean states can create policies that requires all homes in disaster prone areas to be analysed and established a “safe-housing” program, similar to the “safe-school” program in Columbia[8]. Moreover, set up “task force” specifically to dismantle houses constructed illegally on disaster prone areas (banks & near rivers). Also, government make use of “Geo-space” information to make risk management investments[9]. Thus, in the case of a “climate shock” it does not infringe on government’s committed role to reduce poverty in its state.

Insurance roles; a major problem that haunts most if not all Commonwealth Caribbean states is their “indebtedness”. Commonwealth Caribbean states burgeoning debts stymies government’s social policies aim at providing and or maintaining that “safety net” for the most vulnerable population (Indigent). Because of “CCS” mounting debts they are unable to effectively assist victims of “natural disasters”. In addition, the most vulnerable population in most cases can’t afford to build houses that can withstand the devastating impacts of natural disasters and are unable to afford disaster risk insurance. For example, in the aftermath of the December 24, 2013 “trough Storm” in SVG, the government was entrusted with the responsibility to provide shelters and rebuild homes for victims h lost their home. Although, the government response to assisting the people of SVG in the aftermath of the “trough storm” was hailed for its benevolent actions, some may argue that government’s role should be limited amid envisage burgeoning political corruption. Thus, insurance companies must play a more active role separate from governments in providing affordable insurance, especially for people who live in disaster prone areas.

Recommendation; Insurance companies can take a more proactive approach rather than being responsive to natural disaster impacts. For instance, insurance companies can have readily evacuation vehicles in the more disaster prone areas to evacuate people before the impact of a natural disaster. Also, insurance companies can offer affordable insurance packages to “Farmers” to cover losses as a result of a natural disaster. Similar, to Mexico’s agricultural insurance system known as “mutual insurance funds” (Fondos de Aseguramiento)[10].

Community roles; In most Commonwealth Caribbean states political culture, political leaders have a proclivity to view the community as “trivial” to decision-making of matters concerning their own well-being, until election time of course. Ironically, CCS are known for their sense of “togetherness” embedded in their culture and community togetherness is important for resilience building amid community are the “first responders” in the wake of natural disasters. Moreover, Government’s and insurance companies do not always have the monetary capacity, manpower and take long to respond to community needs. Especially, the fact that communities are at the forefront of the impacts ensued by natural disasters, a sense of community “togetherness” is significant in starting the rebuilding process of the community. For instance, in the wake of a natural disaster that have destroyed homes and shops in a community and leaving them expose can embolden “looting”, increase crime/violence and due to lack of resources and bureaucracy, victims are left “out in the cold” waiting on assistance. For example, Jamaica suffered at the hands of one of the most powerful hurricane in 1988 and thousands were left “still waiting” on supplies[11]. Hence, in the aftermath of a natural disaster “community togetherness” is imperative in helping those most in need and for victims of natural disasters to be resilient.

Recommendation; Community can practice preventative methods by engaging in “environmental cleanliness” such as;  proper waste management and stop dumping garbage in the streets or on the road sides. Because these garbage blocks up drains and exacerbate floods ensued by torrential rains and they also become weapons in times of hurricanes. Moreover, the community can pay into a monthly disaster funding program that can be readily accessible and use to buy basic necessities (bottle water, food etc.) for victims most in need amid government and insurance companies lethargic response to assist victims.

In closing, Governments, insurance companies and the community are all important stakeholders in reducing the social and economic impacts ensued by natural disasters. Commonwealth Caribbean states vulnerabilities are prone to all range of natural disasters that varies state by state. For instance, Jamaica is more prone to “earthquakes” amid their deforestation problem [12] as oppose to St Vincent and the Grenadines more prone to “flooding” which severely destroys agriculture in its wake. Thus, Government and insurance companies must remain committed to building resilience through climate change adaption, investing in disaster risk management, provide affordable insurance to stakeholders and encourage community involvement.

– Emmanuel Quashie

Reference:

[1] UNISDR (2014). The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction [online]. Available: http://www.unisdr.org/who-we-are/what-is-drr

[2] Minister of Foreign Affairs et al, St Vincent & the Grenadines (2014). Minister Camillo Gonsalves addressing ECLAC’s Third Meeting of the Caribbean Development Roundtable on the subject of “Articulating the Essential Elements of a Caribbean SIDS Response to Development Challenges” [online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngjFShx4VPg

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Minister of Foreign Affairs et al, St Vincent & the Grenadines (2014). Minister Camillo Gonsalves addressing ECLAC’s Third Meeting of the Caribbean Development Round-table on the subject of “Articulating the Essential Elements of a Caribbean SIDS Response to Development Challenges” [online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngjFShx4VPg

[6] The World Bank, (2014). Eastern Caribbean Islands Rebuilding from Flash Floods [online]. Available: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/03/21/eastern-caribbean-islands-rebuilding-from-flash-floods

[7] Ibid

[8] The World Bank, (2014). Ecuador: United against disasters in Latin America [0nline]. Available: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/06/10/ecuador-unidos-contra-los-desastres-en-latinoamerica-reduccion-riesgo-desastres

[9] Ibid

[10] C. Ribeiro, (2014). Insurance Funds in Mexico [online]. Available: http://www.swissre.com/latin_america/insurance_funds_mexico.html

[11] J.B Treaster, (1988). Jamaica Reviving after Hurricane but Food Shortages Are Predicted [online]. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/20/world/jamaica-reviving-after-hurricane-but-food-shortages-are-predicted.html

[12] World Health Organization, (2012). Caribbean Hazard Assessment Mitigation and Preparedness [online]. Available:  http://www.champ.gatech.edu/node/1857

Straight to the Point……..Fixing Greece Financial Crisis

#Greece

Austerity is not the answer to fixing Greece problems. After all, we’ve notice what austerity does to an economy, examples right here in the Caribbean. Moreover, austerity has a proclivity to always go hand in hand with politically motivated violence and social instability.

Resulting, in civil unrest, a potential civil, coup attempts and even regime change. For example, “Germany’s hyperinflation in 1923 was the initial catalyst that contributed to Hitler’s rise to power, but the deflationary effect of the Great Depression (U.S. banks called in their German loans after the 1929 stock market crash) and government austerity measures in the early 1930s caused an “ugly deleveraging” in the Weimar Republic (and was the end game)

Thus, If a country (in this case Grace) implement austerity measures upon an already weaken economy can potentially result in something more than a simply financial crisis. Remember, Greece anti-austerity movements in 2010. In addition, the potential exit of Greece from the eurozone monetary union, primarily for Greece to deal with its increasingly unmanageable public debt (Grexit).

So, more austerity measures will pretty much be putting the Greek economy in a “choke-hold” which they simply would not be able to get out of. However, the problem with loosening Greece knots even more is due to the phobia of them repeating the same mistakes prior to the bailouts, during the first bailout ($110 Billion) and the second bailout ($130 Billion).

Greece problems are in party by, Greece lavish spending on the military, health and other social benefits amidst embedded corruption. Moreover, the hosting of the Summer Olympics Games in Athens ($11 Billion), while tax evasion flourish, but, tax enforcement didn’t. Most importantly, Greek politicians have been underestimating the country debt for years. Now if you are looking at Greece from outside the Eurozone it plays for good politics to call for Greece debt to be forgiven either by half or in whole, but, also bad politics if you are looking in from the Eurozone “Moral Hazard”.

Now forgiving Greece would be difficult amidst “inter allia”; they currently do not have a strong export-oriented economy, no real market reforms envisage growth within a reasonable timeline, embedded corruption remains, no real tax enforcement policy. Also, it is important to note that fixing Greece financial crisis is a bit of a “thorn”. Greece monetary policies are controlled by the European Central Bank, but, their fiscal policies is mostly control by the Greek government and Greece like I mentioned in previous paragraph, has been understating their debt for quite some time. Greece understating their actual debts can be trace all the way back to the 1990s. In which, Greek politicians have been reporting the debt lower than the actual debt (Greece along with other Eurozone country must keep their debt at 3%).

Greece also depends on Tourism and shipping, two of its biggest industry which don’t really do well in a global recession (2008 global financial crisis). Now normally in a situation like what Greece is currently in “25% unemployment, shrinking economy, liquidity crisis” a country would simply print more money, but, Greece can’t because they are a part of the Eurozone (remember what I said about monetary policy). Thus, Greece needs more capital that’s for sure and an extension on their current debt payments, but, it must come with stringent monitoring policies (not austerity) perhaps a committee specially task to advice and monitor the economy until its back at a sustainable level.

Emmanuel Quashie

Venezuela – Guyana Maritime Crisis. International Law & the CARICOM Doctrine

The Law of the Sea Treaty, formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS III, was adopted in 1982.  Its purpose is to establish a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and to replace previous U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea, one in 1958 (UNCLOS I) and another in 1960 (UNCLOS II), that were believed to be inadequate. Negotiated in the 1970s, the treaty was heavily influenced by the “New International Economic Order,” a set of economic principles first formally advanced at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  That agenda called for “fairer” terms of trade and development financing for the so-called under-developed and developing nations. In additional to the economic provisions, the treaty also establishes specific jurisdictional limits on the ocean area that countries may claim, including a 12-mile territorial sea limit and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone limit.

However, Venezuela have neither signed nor acceded, but, Guyana have signed on December 1982, deposited in 1993 and ratification done in 2008. Article 76 and 82 (of the UNCOS) is important if one is to discuss state and non-state parties to the law of the sea convention conundrum. For instance, article 76 of the convention was linked to article 82 on payments and contributions with respect to the exploitation of the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. It may be unacceptable for parties to the convention that this linkage is not present for non-parties. So in other words parties are bound to the outlines in the convention and non-parties are not bound. Albeit, they may share a common interest in defining the terms, but, things such as payments (article 82) – in this case Venezuela. Thus, Venezuela albeit a non-state party must come to terms with a state in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources beyond the 200 nautical miles, but, issuing a decree to claim territorial sea within the 200 nautical is a clear “annexation” of Guyana’s sovereign waters.

In 1968, then Venezuelan President Raul Leoni had purported to issue a similar decree annexing part of Guyana’s sea space and in May (2015) Nicolas Maduro issued a similar decree annexing maritime zones belonging to Guyana. Venezuela’s action collides with international law, international maritime law and a complete breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

However, I had previously thought that CARICOM diplomatic efforts to this “maritime crisis” would be to either hush on the matter amidst Venezuela economic support to the region. Because we’ve notice 12 of its nations under PetroCaribe and about 7 under ALBA) Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas). However, being cognizant of CARICOM being no stranger to standing for what is right against “bullying” or acts of aggression even if they are standing up against their biggest donor; I knew they would do the right thing. For instance, we’ve noticed there stand against America’s so called “imperialism” in solidarity with Venezuela while receiving many aid from the United States (CBI, CBSI, CBTPA etc.). Recently, the Caribbean region also received some $1.8 Billion in aid assistance to the Caribbean and Latin America with the Caribbean alone receiving a whopping $370 Million USD. Also, Humanitarian Aid from the U.S. to Latin America and the Caribbean were some $1.2 Billion.

I agree, the Caribbean region suffers from one of the highest energy costs and Venezuela economic assistance is of great importance to CARICOM, but, also a lesson to the region that it is time fix our dependency issue and come up with pragmatic solutions to solving the said. Ironically enough, the Caribbean still struggles with high electricity prices amidst the PretroCaribe Agreement. For instance, Conventional electricity prices in the Caribbean are more than four times that of the U.S., due in part to high shipping costs for the Venezuelan crude that fuels our region’s power plants (Schiffman, R, 2014).

Trinidad and Tobago is doing quite well and not because they have Oil because “Nigeria” has oil. But, is currently experiencing a case of “Dutch Disease” and so is Venezuela (dubious). Yes I know what about those who don’t have that very important natural resource (OIL). Barbados a country with not a vast amount of “oil” (in the exploration process) is doing quite well and did not take the PetroCaribe deal. For example, in Barbados there are solar panels and water heaters sprouting from government buildings, hospitals, police stations, even bus shelters as well as thousands of private homes throughout the Island. Thus, a Lack of political will is the problem with CARICOM.

Some may argue that the strategic approach to take would be to stand with Venezuela amidst being a huge recipient of Venezuela charitable contributions. Meanwhile, negating international law and maritime laws and principles. However, in doing so would have been at a much greater cost in the long term. For instance, it is feasible that the United States and commonwealth (UK) enormous support to CARICOM may have started to “dwindle” or even perhaps be ostracize in one way or the other (amidst both entities are enmesh in the Venezuela – Guyana dispute). Thus, CARICOM stance with Guyana while being cautious not to excoriate Venezuela’s actions to much was the right approach. This shows that CARICOM  can be pragmatic in their international affairs By respecting international Laws and Maritime Laws, but, at the same time not lambasting Venezuela (an important ally), but, instead try to pacify the issues envisage finding some sort of common ground.

Emmanuel Quashie