Will CARICOM Stand With Zimbabwe
By Obi Egbuna Jr
At the end of 2015 between December 4th through the 6th a very important meeting took place in Trinidad and Tobago between the Caribbean Pan African Network(CPAN), Citizens and Diaspora Directorate of the African Union and CARICOM(CIDO) that resulted in an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and CARICOM. The President of CPAN Mr. David Commissong discussed a bridge between the two governmental structures of the AU and CARICOM in order to foster the realization of concrete developmental objectives. It would be truly monumental if CARICOM and the AU issued a joint resolution calling for the immediate lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe, a political statement of that magnitude would not only be unprecedented diplomatically speaking, but would evoke the spirit of the modern day Pan African movements architects and forefathers who ironically was born in Trinidad and Tobago Henry Sylvester Williams.
While that Pan African Giant is best remembered for organizing the 1st Pan African Conference in 1900 that occurred in London at West Minister Hall, it should never be forgotten that three years before in 1897 he formed the African Association for the purpose of challenging paternalism, racism and imperialism. The objective was to promote and protect the interests of all subjects claiming African descent, wholly or in part, in British colonies and other places especially Africa, by circulating accurate information on all subjects affecting their rights privileges and subjects of the British Empire by direct appeals to Imperial and Local Governments. This bold and visionary by Comrade Sylvester Williams move was not only completely in step with the energy and courage displayed by Mbuya Nehanda and her comrades on the battlefield during the 1stChimurenga that began in 1896, in 1903 he went on to practice as a Barrister in South Africa making him the very 1st African to be called to the bar in what was called the Cape Colony.
The people of Zimbabwe only hope that CIDO CPAN and CARICOM recognize that establishing a union of this magnitude is only a useful weapon, means that all three bodies recognize the paramount importance of correcting all political mistakes and errors committed in the past, especially the ones that wreak of capitulation to US-EU Imperialism.
At the moment CARICOM consists of the following nations Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Aruba, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St Marteens and Venezuela.
It was rather disappointing in 2008 when CARICOM decided to condemn the Presidential elections in Zimbabwe, for a multitude of reasons, the 1st being extremely audacious because several Caribbean nations(Montserrat, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands) are to this day officially recognized as British Occupied Territories and while Aruba and Curacao have associate status and St Maarten has observer status, all three nations are recognized on the world stage as Countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We must also remember that Puerto Rico is officially recognized as a colony of the USA.
Another reason CARICOM should be celebrating President Mugabe and ZANU-PF was for not accepting LDC status when offered at the UN 10 years ago, which was a gesture that failed to acknowledge the impact that US-EU sanctions were having on the economy and social infrastructure. According to CARICOM its 15 members are currently broken down economically into two categories respectively Less Developed Countries and More Developed Countries, the nine that are considered LDC are Antigua and Barbuda,Belize,Grenada,Haiti, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the economic struggles of these nations could be at the heart of their subservience when Zimbabwe was suspended and eventually withdrew from the Commonwealth 13 years ago.
When CARICOM was established at the Treaty of Chaguaramas in Trinidad in 1973 Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia were all in the bush waging guerilla warfare for their total independence, which sent the statement total sovereignty and self- determination is worth dying for something that our ancestors in Haiti way back in 1804 and our comrades in Cuba understood from the very outset.
The manner that CARICOM as a collective has chosen the Zimbabwe question should not in any way overshadow how Cuba and Venezuela under the late Commandante Hugo Chavez and currently President Marduro have not wavered on solidarity towards their comrades in the SADC region of Africa, for anyone who doubts the authenticity of these relationships, President Mugabe has the Jose Marti Award from Cuba which he received in 1986 and the Simon Bolivar award from Venezuela and 2003 as proof in the pudding.
What also has been problematic concerning this dynamic the manner in how President Obama manipulates his cultural makeup to promote neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism throughout the Caribbean This can be seen in President Obama’s recent statement concerning Caribbean-American Heritage month when he is quoted as saying “The legacy of Caribbean Americans is one of tenacity and drive, it reminds us that in America with faith and determination anything is possible. This month let us honor the resilient heritage and rich history of Caribbean Americans and let us reflect upon the diversity of experience that unites us as a people”.
These remarks by President Obama though lofty and verbose magnify the contradictions and ideological divide among Africans in the Caribbean, at a moment where his ego has him functioning from the understanding that visiting Cuba just before he leaves office, but spending seven years doing absolutely nothing sufficient to lift the US blockade on Cuba represents a new chapter in US-Cuba relations.
Our people in the Caribbean should view President Obama and former US Secretary of State and Joint Chief of Staff General Colin Powell as one in the same, it was General Powell who gave the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 the diplomatic seal of approval and penned an op-ed entitled Freeing a Nation From A Tyrant’s Grip in the New York Times that introduced many US citizens who read that paper to the political buffoonery of former Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. This explains when General Powell leaped across the aisle and endorsed President Obama in 2008, he was looking for an African who hated President Mugabe as much as he does, let us remember President Obama wrote President Bush a letter when he was still a Junior Senator of Illinois pleading with him not to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe until President Mugabe whom he referred to as a dark cloud was ousted from power. We are glad President Mugabe took the high road and chose not to ask President Obama was he referring to his complexion when using the word dark, especially since we know historically Africans who are lighter because they are biological products of a mixed marriage, have in many cases mocked Africans who are as the iconic R&B singer Curtis Mayfield put it we who are darker than blue.
The Africans in the Caribbean should know that General Powell and President Obama’s sentiments are echoed by Professor Horace Campbell who authored the Pro MDC manifesto Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhausting of the Patriarchical Model of Liberation,Professor Campbell was born in Montego Bay Jamaica. At one point earlier in this millennium Professors at Morehouse University in Atlanta Georgia had told Dr. Simbi Mubako the former Zimbabwe Ambassador to the US there was an interest in linking up with traditional healers in Zimbabwe gain more insight concerning green medicine and also how Zimbabwe was weathering the storm dealing with HIV-AIDS. During this time frame the Director of Public Health was none other than Dr. Patricia Rodney the widow of Pan African giant and historian Dr. Walter Rodney who is best known for his epic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.
According to the late National Hero Dr. Nathan Shamayarira when Walter Rodney visited Zimbabwe he was seeking military and political support from President Mugabe and ZANU-PF, and was escorted throughout the country by former ZANU-PF political commissar Webster Shamu, who has stated he will write about his time with Dr. Rodney in Zimbabwe if it could help Zimbabwe solidarity efforts in the US and diaspora.
If CARICOM is going to betray Zimbabwe the rhetoric of President Obama, General Powell and on a much lower level Professor Campbell is hardly a justifiable reason.
Obi Egbuna Jr is the US Correspondent to the Herald and the External Relations Officer of ZICUFA(Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association)his email is email@example.com