As a Caribbean immigrant who voted for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket, it is exasperating to see the consistent blatant disrespect meted out to Caribbean immigrants and the Caribbean region.
In my ever hopeful and positive bubble, I felt that the election of Kamala Harris as a daughter of an immigrant born in the Caribbean island of Jamaica, would have somehow elevated the status of this region.
Afterall, many Caribbean immigrants, including thousands from Haiti, helped this ticket secure a historic win over the delusional and xenophobic 45.
But Harris and the silence of the many Caribbean nationals appointed to the Biden administration is not simply distressing and mindboggling, it’s downright aggravating now.
First off, within weeks of the Joe Biden administration taking office, thousands of Haitians have been deported. Biden has now deported more Haitians over the past two months than Donald Trump did in the previous year. FACT!
Add to that, the Black Caribbean community has been impacted greatly by COVID-19 but there is no focus on this demographic. Where is the PPP promotion to this community of entrepreneurs and small business owners; where are the vaccine informational advertising to this bloc and where is the outreach to the Caribbean diaspora media and community?
Then there is the blatant ignoring of the Caribbean. Not a single vaccine has been sent to the Caribbean to date by the U.S. Biden/Harris administration. India, Russia and China have all pitched in, but the U.S. has yet to announce any donations from its huge stockpile, choosing instead to play vaccine diplomacy with Central America to stem the migration to the southern border.
We’re still waiting to hear of a response to this request from the premier of Nevis and foreign affairs minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mark Brantley.
Luckily, through the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), nearly 400,000 AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea have been donated to many Caribbean nations whose economies have taken a massive hit since the pandemic.
Then on April 9, 2021, at around 8:41 a.m. EST, the La Soufriere volcano in the small Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted.
As I write this column on Sunday morning, April 11, 2021, the situation is getting worse. The power went out in many households and there is a water shortage, as ash covers everything there and even in Barbados. Residents in the north of the island, closer to the volcano, say the loud rumblings are deafening.
The ash is beginning to harden on the ground and pyroclastic flows are now being forecast according to University of the West Indies professor and lead scientist at La Soufriere volcano, Richard Robertson, who is basing it on current activity pattern similar to that of a 1902 eruption there.
To date, only CARICOM nations, cruise ships, Caribbean diaspora organizations have pitched in to help. We are still waiting to hear from any international organizations on this modern-day Pompeii in the making.
Worst of all, there has not been a peep from the Biden/Harris administration we’ve heard of. No announced phone calls from the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken or Harris to the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; no announcement of rushed aid from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or the U.S. Southern Command. Nothing but deafening silence as again, the U.S.’ snubbing of the Caribbean continues unbounded.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow