The disparity has always been huge in how Latin American leaders stand up for their diaspora versus their Caribbean counterparts. It’s almost like Jesus and the moneychangers.
Latin American leaders recognize the importance of their diaspora and have always recognized immigration as important to these masses. As such, they have used every opportunity—whether it’s meeting with a sitting U.S. president, others in the administration or Congress—to speak up and speak out on this hot button issue.
Contrast that with Caribbean leaders, who recognize their diaspora when it is convenient and have rarely spoken up on the issue of immigration that affects many of their nationals in the U.S.
That attitude continues even as the Donald Trump administration moves to deport more and more Caribbean and Latin American immigrants from the U.S.
In January, during the annual Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in the Dominican Republic, Latin American leaders slammed Trump while their Caribbean Community counterparts stayed silent.
“We have to protect ourselves from the aggressive policy of persecuting migrants,” Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said as he arrived in Punta Cana.
His comments were echoed by many others in Latin America and even from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, but none from CARICOM.
The silence continues as thousands of Caribbean immigrants—undocumented and green card holders who have committed petty crimes—cower in fear of being arrested, detained in a detention center far from their family and then deported. Some are reluctant to go to work, go to a restaurant, go to a store or even go to a social gathering for fear that U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents will nab them, ship them off to a detention center and then deport them.
Some Caribbean “leaders,” who have little if any interaction with these migrants they are paid tax payer dollars to represent, have decided it’s better to brown-nose with the Trump administration rather than speak up for the issues of real importance to their nationals and the Caribbean immigrant diaspora.
April 10, 2017, I came across a headline from a regional Caribbean news site that declared, “Trump reinforces bond between Jamaica and the United States.”
In the article, the writer, Derrick Scott, claimed that Trump told Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, at the White House that he looks forward to working with the Jamaican government administration on “bilateral and regional issues.”
No details on what these “bilateral and regional issues” are were given, but the article added that “Trump and the ambassador in their exchange underscored the strong bond of friendship that has existed over the years between the people of Jamaica and the United States, noting the contribution of Jamaica in many spheres of American life.”
The article also nauseatingly mentions that the envoy took the opportunity to invite Trump to visit Jamaica. I am not sure what the reaction of many Jamaicans to that invitation will be, but that’s another story for another day.
Of concern to this writer was that not once in the entire article was the issue of immigration or the concerns of Jamaicans in the diaspora mentioned, including the threat of deportation hanging over their heads.
These endangered immigrants are some of the same Jamaicans who have contributed to the “many spheres of American life” as cited by the ambassador.
Perhaps, the Jamaican representative, in an attempt to ensure Jamaica pops up on the radar of Donald Trump, felt it necessary to brown-nose the xenophobe in the White House by conveniently ignoring the hot button issue of immigration and deportation that threatens her nationals.
Instead, she choose to speak of trade even though Trump has made his “America First” policy very clear. Further, the reality is that most of the region’s foreign direct investment comes not from U.S. trade, but from remittances from its diaspora and tourism.
Following on the heels of that story came another that claimed “Caribbean Diaspora leaders” have begun dialogue on U.S.-Caribbean relations with the Trump administration.
Few have heard of these self-appointed so-called leaders of the Caribbean diaspora mentioned in the article, and again, the focus seemed to be on everything except the issue that could have the most impact on the Caribbean region.
Thousands more could be deported to the region, creating serious security and economic problems and adding to the woes already experienced by the islands of the Caribbean.
These potential problems include a significant drop in the remittances and tourism dollars to the region and a further spike in crime.
But the so-called leaders, intent it seems on currying favor with El Trumpeto and his band of merry millionaires and billionaires, feel the issues of importance are “diplomacy, security; economic development, education and health.”
And so a “white paper” was presented to an administration that does not give a damn about the health, education or economic empowerment of its own low-income and middle-class, let alone give a damn about a region with little to no economic wealth and millions of Black and brown “natives.”
It’s time the so-called leaders of the Caribbean and its diaspora quit focusing so much on perfecting the art of brown-nosing that they lose touch with the masses and forget what the real issues they should be standing up for are.
Or worst yet, forget that there is now a xenophobe in the White House to whom brown and Black means simply less than.
The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc. which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.