Europe’s Caribbean Blueprint
Owen Arthur is worried. “On balance, the distressing circumstances in which the Caribbean community now finds itself, and the very fearsome prospects which lie ahead, do not create any grounds for the optimism that these are the best of times.” With these foreboding words, Mr. Arthur, prime minister of Barbados, opened his address in Georgetown, Guyana, to the third gathering of the Caribbean Media Conference on May 5, 2000.
His speech, “The Future of the Caribbean Community and Common Market,” painted a melancholy picture of neglect, corruption and socio-economic disorder amid a general public air of despair. Mr. Arthur pointed to a continued and lengthy “tendency toward disorder in just about every sphere of political, social and economic life.” The Caribbean is smitten with the scourge of the hiv/aids epidemic, and beset by a malignant and growing drug culture using its islands as thoroughfares for South and Central America’s drug trade.
Mr. Arthur expressed deep concern over ongoing regional problems in Haiti, St. Vincent, Suriname and Jamaica, noting the rapid fading of Caribbean geopolitical significance after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war. Disillusioned by exclusion from the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (nafta) and the collapse of last year’s World Trade Organization (wto) talks in Seattle, Mr. Arthur highlighted the neglect by the United States and the growing “specter of international marginalization” that stalks the region. The prime minister conceded that at the start of the 21st century, the Caribbean is at a crucial crossroads.
Arthur’s hopes rested upon the expansion of Caribbean Community (Caricom), broadening the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramus into a document framing the structure for a greater single Caribbean market and economic trade zone—a Caribbean trading block.
The importance of this speech cannot be underestimated, for it underscored the future economic, political and social course the Caribbean region would soon chart.
“I offer no hostility,” he said, “just an overwhelming sense of sadness about the fact that elsewhere in the Caribbean, a state of such utter despair has been reached regarding the prospects for national development that some are now proposing variants of recolonization, such as applying to join the European Union, as viable options in the Caribbean at the start of the 21st century.”
The prime minister’s fears were confirmed one month later, on June 23, in Cotonou, capital of the tiny African nation of Benin, when it, along with 76 other African, Caribbean and Pacific (acp) nations, signed a 20-year partnership agreement with the European Union.
The Cotonou Agreement
This new deal, called the Cotonou Agreement, developed under the auspices of promoting peace and combating poverty, links the flow of 25 billion euros to the long-term economic, political and social advancement of the signatories.
Here is yet another example of how the EU, as the world’s largest donor of developmental assistance, has bought itself phenomenal influence throughout the predominately poor countries of the world.
It must be stated that the EU has without a doubt achieved its goals and objectives via ink and paper. A lengthy paper trail of treaties, agreements, partnerships, programs and regional cooperatives has paved the way for the emerging federal Europe of today.
The Cotonou Agreement builds on 25 years of agreements between the EU and the world’s poorest. This program of strategic regional influence between the haves and the have-nots dates back to the original 1957 Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community. The Yaoundé i and ii agreements of 1963 and ’69 established European influence within Africa. Major nations of the Caribbean and the Pacific signed Yaoundé’s successor, the Lomé i agreement, in 1975. Other acp nations signed Lomé ii, iii, iv and revised iv between 1979-1995 (with the exception of Cuba).
“The new partnership agreement between the 15 European Union member states and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (acp) states marks five generations of agreements between acp-EU sovereign states. It is the world’s largest financial and political framework for North-South cooperation” (www.europa.eu.int). In accordance with Article 38 of the Cotonou Agreement, a joint acp-EC Ministerial Trade Committee was established, with its representatives convening once a year.
To cope with the administration of the 25 billion euros, in January 2001 the EU created the Europe Aid Cooperation Office. The new office is directed by a management board chaired by EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Its chief executive officer is the EU’s commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Poul Nielson.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Cotonou, Mr. Nielson, as the EU’s representative, noted that the Cotonou Agreement was a “special and privileged relationship with the European Union.” In his address to acp representatives, he identified key objectives of the agreement for both the EU and acp. Nielson outlined the EU’s continued goals of eradicating poverty and increasing development and productivity in economic, social, political, cultural, environmental and private-sector spheres. “[T]he acp-EU partnership agreement can make a difference for the benefit of the poorest,” he said.
“Partnership goes hand in hand with ownership and mutual confidence,” he continued. “In a constructive and positive spirit we have decided to define good governance as a fundamental element of the new agreement. This is a very encouraging signal that we are, together, sending to the legitimate beneficiaries of development co-operation and to the rest of the world.”
In his closing statements about their “shared vision of the future of this relationship,” Nielson subtly reminded the acp nations of who was really in charge. “The Community will be behind you,” he said, “and together with you, to achieve this objective.”
Perhaps the most telling factor in this new agreement is its length. Lomé i, ii and iii were all five-year agreements. Lomé iv was a ten-year agreement. The Cotonou Agreement spans the globe, bringing together 650 million people from 92 countries, linking them via mutual economic, political, social and cultural goals—all locked into a 20-year agreement.
Cotonou was more of a win for the EU than for the Caribbean and other acp countries. Over the past 25 years, the EU has worked on securing its economic toehold within the island archipelago. Caricom imports from the EU in 1998 were estimated at $1.6 billion, with 11 of 19 countries reporting. Since 1980 the EU has been the destination for 17 percent of the region’s exports. The primary beneficiaries of the relationship with the EU have been the larger, more prosperous countries of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. Until Cotonou, the U.S. was the Caribbean’s largest trading partner, with the EU just behind. However, as the rolling provisions of Cotonou are taking effect on Caricom economies, the EU will no doubt become the region’s most-favored trading bloc.
The reality for the Caribbean and other acp nations is that he who holds the purse-strings holds the power. It must be understood that agreements such as Lomé and Cotonou are part of Europe’s larger global strategy. As the agreements have been implemented in conjunction with aid donations, the Caribbean and other acp countries have had to adopt EU-led initiatives and economic procedures. It is a simple formula: Money plus economic influence equals power. Through Lomé and Cotonou, the EU has bought itself immense global power, influence and access to key regions, markets, economies and commercial gateways. The goals of good will, solving poverty and world peace do not obscure the reality of Europe’s greater ambitions.
Despite the economic guarantee of banana, sugar, rum, rice and other product quotas for export to EU markets, overall—for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, in life and in death—the agreement places the nations of the Caribbean at the behest of the EU for the next two decades. It appears to confirm Owen Arthur’s fears that the region has reached a point of such despair that it has sought salvation via the economic, political and social might of the EU.
At the end of the day Caribbean nations had to make a choice: the U.S. or the EU. Miffed by nafta omission, discouraged by Seattle’s wto debacle and offended by the casual treatment of them during the Clinton administration, they made their decision. On June 23, 2000, they chose the EU.
Over the past few years, while the economic monoliths of the U.S. and EU faced off over the ongoing dispute known as the banana war, Caribbean nations have found themselves wedged between two agitated economic superpowers. The trade tussle has thrust Caribbean suppliers into the comforting economic arms of Europe.
In 1997, the wto ruled that EU banana import quotas, which favored Caribbean countries, contravened the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (gatt). The EU made trade adjustments that were unacceptable to the wto and the U.S. The U.S. imposed 100 percent tariffs on over $190 million worth of EU imports. Despite 1999 rulings by the wto, the U.S. and EU are still fighting over the issue which has caused division in the wto.
“Two Caribbean nations that benefited from the old EU banana import regime, St. Lucia and Dominica, actually attempted to block the U.S. sanctions but were rebuffed by procedural moves. Finally, Jamaica claimed that many of its farmers stopped planting bananas due to the uncertainty about access to the EU market and turned to drug crops instead” (Judson O. Berkey, Washington International Report, January/February 1999).
The banana war has been but a symptom of a growing and more pervasive fissure in regional dialogue. At its core it has highlighted the weakness of the two most dominant powers in Caribbean culture of the recent past—Britain and the United States. The British Empire, when it spanned the greater part of the globe, enveloped the Caribbean West Indies. After World War ii, the acquisition of various islands strengthened the already dominant position of the United States in the Caribbean.
Casting an even darker shadow over U.S.-Caribbean relations was the recent cancellation of a regional meeting of Caricom leaders with the son of a Jamaican immigrant, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. The trip was canceled due to Powell’s packed schedule; however, Caribbean politicians and business leaders appear to have reached exhaustion point as the future of U.S.-Caribbean relations is increasingly cast into doubt.
Gibraltar, Suez, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Panama Canal are all vital global sea lanes. Over the past century, primarily under the control of Britain or the U.S., commercial trade criss-crossed these lanes. “Britain and America came into possession of every such major ‘gate’ in this world!… World War ii hinged on these ‘gates.’ They have become not only strategic passes, but the world’s greatest fortifications” (United States and Britain in Prophecy, 1945 version, p. 51). He who held the keys to these gates held the prosperity and the power. Loss of the pride of their power (Lev. 26:19) and a self-inflicted colonialism complex have driven these superpowers of yesterday to turn over these crucial keys to other nations. Egypt got the Suez, China snagged Hong Kong and the Panama Canal, and it appears increasingly apparent that Spain will take over passage rights to Gibraltar.
Another key global port facility under foreign control is located in the Caribbean: Freeport, in the Bahamas.
China has worked hard on its relationship with the largest Caribbean island nation, Cuba. Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s April visit to Cuba underscored the importance with which his aspirant nation views the Caribbean islands. Beijing and Havana have long-standing diplomatic ties dating back to the volatile Kennedy-Khrushchev Cuban missile crisis. Under the nose of its primary trading partner, the United States, China has taken advantage of Cuba’s geographic positioning and commonality of Communist ideology to enhance its standing throughout the South American theater.
At a time when U.S. foreign policy is struggling to find its identity, while a superpower focuses on internal issues, the nabbing of Freeport as another maritime jewel in the Chinese sea gate war chest highlights just how out of touch the U.S. is with the strategic and economic power plays unfolding within its sphere of influence.
As a counterweight to China’s appetite for Caribbean sea gates, the EU has wisely incorporated into the Cotonou Agreement key wording outlining plans for maritime development. Article 84 of the agreement speaks of “the efficient exploitation of marine resources and the marketing of products.”
The seriousness of both Chinese and European motives toward Caribbean ports, sea lanes and inlets cannot be ignored. One thing is for sure. Europe’s 20-year agreement provides a stable platform to work from in achieving its regional ambitions as part of its greater global strategy.
As the Trumpet has detailed, Europe already has strong links to South America through the Mercosur trade agreement. Mercosur plus Cotonou provides the EU with significant economic, political, social, cultural and religious influence from Argentina in the south to the West Indies in the north.
Of the 19 countries of the Caribbean, over half recognize Catholicism as their primary religion. Cuba remains the religious wildcard. Despite its Communist past, last year’s much-publicized papal visit highlighted just how extant and strongly supported the Catholic religion is in Cuba.
During his tenure, the present pope has visited all 24 countries of Central and South America and key believing islands of the Caribbean. He has continually pressed for collective religious unity.
In his book The Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul ii recognized the centuries-old power and influence that Catholicism has harnessed. He wrote, “By the year 2000 we need to be more united, more willing to advance along the path toward…unity…. This unity is enormously precious. In a certain sense, the future of the world is at stake.” Watch for the Vatican as the mother church of the European Union, South and Central America, to become the Caribbean queen as closer economic, political, social, cultural and religious ties are cemented.
As we have seen with the acp-EU agreements, many countries have allowed themselves to be led into collusion with the rising Eurobeast, the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. The EU’s corporate war machine and the powerful religious influence of the Vatican state are quickly outsmarting Britain and America.
On a 1968 trip to the West Indies, American broadcaster and publisher Herbert W. Armstrong noted the unique and impressive qualities of the peoples of the Caribbean. “They have an attitude of self-respect, and I have seen no racial prejudices. They seem to be a happier people than those of many other countries…. Nearly everyone here, it seems, listens. The fact many, perhaps even most, do not agree with everything we say, only indicates that these people are a thinking people…. Once they find what we say proved, [they] are willing to accept truth, and turn from former ideas and beliefs, and ways of life, when proved erroneous and wrong” (Plain Truth, February 1968).
Mr. Armstrong knew of the great supreme unseen Being that looks down upon the circle of the Earth—the Creator of man. He knew and taught that the Caribbean people will soon find themselves freed from poverty, suffering and economic want. They will be freed from the oppressive hand of the Holy Roman Empire. They, led by those few today who heed God’s warning and join Him in His service, will be used by God to grow, develop, succeed and maintain happy families and successful businesses. Ultimately the future of all peoples of the Caribbean is bright, filled with joy and abundance!
For now, Europe’s economic, political, social and religious foray into the Caribbean will continue. Events between these and other nations will aid in the formation of the greatest double-cross of all time. Once-great powers Britain and America have failed to heed the warning delivered in this end time and turn from their habitual national disobedience to the laws of God. As a result of their failure, their birthright promises are being stripped away: The Eurobeast will soon stride atop the world, supported by a great false church, enslaving these superpowers of the 20th century.
Their only real and last hope is to heed the warning of the Trumpet magazine, yield themselves to the power of Almighty God and return, on their knees, to obey their God in national repentance.