Whether by accident or design, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and some of his Caricom counterparts had the same theme for their addresses at the Summit of the Americas---a rebuke of the Biden administration for its refusal to invite the leaders of three nations to the hemispheric gathering.
In his time on the podium at the Los Angeles event, Dr Rowley called for the removal of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and for their inclusion in future Summits.
His call echoed that of Caricom chair, Belizean Prime Minister John Briceño, who at the opening plenary a day earlier also took the opportunity to condemn the long-running US embargo against Cuba as “an affront to humanity.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados struck a similar chord in her address, quoting late reggae legend Bob Marley with her declaration: “There is so much trouble in the world.”
But do not take that as an indication that there was a strong, united Caricom presence at the recently concluded Summit. Far from it.
In the weeks leading up to the Summit, the exclusion of some heads of state was a source of contention for the regional bloc which never arrived at a consensus on the issue. St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves was the only Caricom leader to state definitively that he would boycott the event.
At the opening ceremony of the Summit on Wednesday evening the size of the Caribbean delegations showed that there would only be lip service about exclusion. All that had gone before turned out to be mere saber rattling.
And by the end of the Summit on Friday, it was clear that the concerns of Caricom countries did not get urgent attention leaders from this part of the region had been hoping for.
There was the Los Angeles declaration on migration for a “shared responsibility” by all nations to deal with migration flows. This is an issue of concern to T&T which has been struggling with an influx of migrants from neighbouring Venezuela but is just one of many social, economic, and political challenges confronting this country and the rest of the Caribbean.
Other urgent concerns are the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has been driving up prices at the worst possible time since many countries are still struggling to recuperate from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, as Briceño highlighted in his address, the Caribbean needs assistance with debt relief, climate change and access to concessionary funding.
These would have been reasonable expectations if the Summit of the Americas had kept to its original purpose of facilitating the type of hemispheric dialogue that yields a collaborative agenda.
Instead, as was made clear from the debate over exclusion, there is a deepening hemispheric rift because some governments are trying to uphold democratic values while others tolerate more authoritarian ideologies.
More than ever, the 2022 Summit displayed to the world the extent to which the United States has lost political and economic dominance in the Americas.
Caribbean leaders should weigh in on these changing hemispheric dynamics at the Regular Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government scheduled for July 3-5 in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Expectations of cooperation and support must be adjusted.