The Caribbean Mouse That Roared!

An angry roar is swelling up in the Caribbean Sea with the start of another hurricane season, as leaders of the numerous  tiny islands and a shoulder of the South American continent can be heard simultaneously stamping their feet, and banging their desks in a manner similar to characters  in The Mouse That Roared!

The Mouse That Roared is a 1955 Cold War satirical novel by Irish American writer Leonard Wibberley, which launched a series of satirical books about an imaginary country in Europe called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

One reviewer, Jamie White, summed up its message this way:

“So, the play centres on this little country that is literally stuck back in the middle ages. They even have weapons from that time period. Anyway, the country exports a certain drink that is pretty much the only thing that brings the country any money. 

“When a company in California begins producing a drink that is essentially the same thing, the country ends up taking that (and the United State’s lack of response to them) as an attack on them and decide to declare war.”

As in Wibberley’s novel,  the Mighty USA has been roughly shouted out by today’s defiant  Caribbean  community for committing the gravest of diplomatic sins by refusing to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the region’s most prestigious  Summit of the Americas recently held in Los Angeles. 

The attack was started by Ralph Gonzales, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines who actually refused to attend the summit and stated his reasons in public.

In his statement, Gonzales referred to an earlier decision by CARICOM (The Caribbean Community) to desist from attending the summit if Cuba and, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited, as the USA had indicated.

“The invitation to the Summit of the Americas should be inclusive and not exclusive”, he stressed.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley enjoyed the best of both worlds by attending the Summit but chastising the USA for its delinquent behavior.

When his turn came to speak at the June 5-10 event, Rowley advocated for Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela saying that “exclusions and sanctions” have not been effective in the past.

The United States blocked those three countries from attending the Summit claiming they are not democratic.

He also referred to Haiti and called on regional countries to assist Haiti because of its economic and social problems.

And Rowley criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine referring to an “unjustified state-on-state war.”

International Relations specialist and Political Scientist Dr Indira Rampersad told the Sunday Guardian that the Prime Minister did not offer any new solutions at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

T&T hosted the fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009.

“The Prime Minister didn’t say anything new. Everything he has said has been on the agenda. ….What the Prime Minister said is everything that’s been said before. There was nothing creative.”

She qualified that by saying that the United States is a global superpower and regional countries have to be careful about what official statements they make.

“He has to be diplomatic as he wants to continue the relations with the United States. The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley on the other hand is not afraid of anyone, she says what she has to say.”

Dr Indira Rampersad

Rampersad also called international events like the Summit of the Americas a “big talk shop.”A report in Loop News dated May 19, 2022 revealed that while President Chandrikapersad Santokhi agrees with CARICOM that the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela should be invited to the event, “he believes the regional bloc should avoid making an emotional decision on the matter”.

Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi.

“The president favours a realistic and pragmatic approach,” Ramdin said.

According to Santokhi, the advantages of participating in the June 6-10 summit in Los Angeles at the highest political level should be weighed against the disadvantages of not attending.

Ramdin stated that, if the US does not give in to demands that Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela be allowed at the summit, CARICOM leaders have options other than boycotting the event to show their disapproval, including attending under protest and sending representatives at a lower political level.

The AS/COA online tracker list published May 25 and since updated indicated that the majority of members had signalled their intention to attend the Summit, despite their annoyance at the USA for excluding some states. 

The US has argued that the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have shown that they do not respect democracy and therefore would not receive invitations to the summit.

Despite their bluffing, what is most interesting is the confidence with which these heavily-US dependent   Caribbean island  states have been moving lately  against their economic controller.

To understand the answer to this dilemma, we only have to look at the assessment by Bloomberg dated June 10, 2022 headlined: Biden’s Lackluster Los Angeles Summit Reveals Waning Influence in Latin America

Activists and organizers gathered at the People’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles to hear opening remarks from Bolivian Senate President Andrónico Rodríguez. (@PeoplesSummit22 / Twitter)

According to Bloomberg  the Summit was :

  • Marked by boycotts, discord, vague pacts and an event overshadowed by the  January 6 Capitol Hill  hearing inflation report.

Bloomberg writers Josh Wingrove, Maya AverbuchJordan Fabian, and  Eric Martin said “President Joe Biden sought to put on a show of hemispheric unity at a Los Angeles summit this week, but boycotts, bluster and lacklustre pledges instead exposed the shaky state of US influence in Latin America”.  

Some foreign officials complained that the event was disorganized and exclusionary, after the US waited until last month to issue invitations and refused to include leaders from autocratic nations. Several leaders declined to attend, citing various grievances, including Mexico’s president and three Central American countries that have experienced mass emigration to the US.

At one point, Biden made a personal appearance at a meeting between Vice President Kamala Harris and Caribbean leaders to assuage concerns they weren’t getting due attention from the US.

Several foreign diplomats said the summit failed to unite the region. They asked not to be identified to protect relations with the US government.

 Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

At one point, Biden made a personal appearance at a meeting between Vice President Kamala Harris and Caribbean leaders to assuage concerns they weren’t getting due attention from the US.

And a former Mexican ambassador to the US, Arturo Sarukhan, laid blame for some of the summit’s missteps with Latin American countries, particularly Mexico and Brazil. “Like never before in recent history, when it comes to global affairs, #LatAm has been and is punching below its weight,” he said on Twitter.

What might have come as a surprise were a number of developments which have be obviously steering the region on such a new strong course of change that it helps us to understand why these mini states with  scare resources are now flexing their little muscles at Uncle Sam

These include:

  1. The recent pact for oil supply made between Venezuelan strong man Maduro and Iran even in the wake of   the US having to release its sanctions squeeze initiated by former President Trump and the attendant worries brought about to Maduro-friendly Keith Rowley TT led TT government;
  2. The  warming of relations by the USA with Saudi Arabia in the search for a regular oil supply  but, in exchange, paying a heavy price in a loss of Dignity as a nation which boasts of its justice system by ceasing to 

view Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman  as the prime suspect in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi..

  1. The threats facing the stability of small island states in vulnerable areas such as fast rising food prices and energy prices, and their exposure to destabilization in the wink of an eye, and
  2. The strengthening of the Muslim radical quarter here – in a region which has already produced ISIS martyrs who went to Syria.

It was also here in Trinidad and Tobago that a Muslim cleric staged an attempted coup which left a number of people dead, including a Parliamentarian, and several buildings  destroyed by fire in Port of Spain, and

  1.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing  world alliances to scramble, forcing the U.S. to reorder its priorities — and potentially recalibrating its emphasis on human rights.

In this regard, Biden officials visited Venezuela  to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Some Republicans and Democrats in Washington suggest Venezuela’s oil could replace Russia’s, according to the New York Times.

  • Biden will likely take trips to Japan, Spain, Germany and, potentially, Israel, Axios has also learned.

Against this background, it’s no wonder that these paper tiger Caribbean mini states can protrude their chests among the big guns that have emerged as their unintentional allies from the Far East.

Iranian tankers arrive in Venezuela

Whether they can hold the fort when the crunch of high  inflation comes down upon their small economies, is left to be seen or whether they will have to resort once more to old Uncle Sam when the middle east  giants (who only a passing interest in this place), decide it’s time to cut loose and leave these defiant little islands  home alone.

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