KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 20, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Monday re-affirmed its close and strong relationship with the United States even as it acknowledged that geographical location allows for different perspectives on global issues.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, speaking at a ceremony where Washington has handed over nearly two million US dollars in marine and military hardware, said that too often political commentators seek to drive a wedge between the two countries.
”The relationship between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States of America is in excellent health. So too is the relationship between the United States and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, which I currently have the honour to chair,” said Gonsalves, whose country is a member of the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
Gonsalves, who has a close relationship with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, said that “every now and again, you may hear a commentator pointing to this or that difference between the United States of America and St. Vincent and the Grenadines or the OECS on this or that matter.
“It is expected that between friends and close allies there would be differences. After all, United States is a continental country, we are a small island. The very nature of the geography invites certain different perspectives on some matters in the international political system.
“United States of America would have certain ideas in regard to trade relations. They are a very powerful strong economy, we will have some other kind of perspectives but what we do whenever there is these differences we seek to talk about them to resolve them as far as is humanly possible and if the occasion arises where we have to hold a different position we agree respectively to disagree but that does not alter the fact that the relationship is fundamentally healthy”.
US Ambassador to Barbados and the OECS, Larry Palmer, handed over the two 33 foot long inceptor vessels capable of carrying 21 people, and other equipment under the US-led Secure Seas Programme that is part of the broader Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) outlined by President Barack Obama when he attended the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.
Gonsalves said that the principle purpose of any state is to provide security for its citizens and that when Obama announced the CBSI “this government and those throughout the OECS and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) we were pleased.
“What we are seeing here today is in part fulfilment of the pledge which the President made and subsequently Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton in carrying forward the agenda as laid out for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.”
Gonsalves said both Washington and Kingstown share common values and interests rooted in fundamental propositions “that we are a nation founded on the believe in the supremacy of God and the freedom and dignity of man.
“We respect each other’s independence and sovereignty but we use that very independence and sovereignty to combine to work together in defence of common values,” he said, including the maintenance of democratic governments.
“If you have chaos in the United States there will be total confusion here , similarly if in the neighbourhood that these states do not maintain a democratic stability the security and well being of the United States will be adversely affected”.
He said both countries have an interest in ensuring that drug trafficking and money laundering are combated effectively.
“The problem with the drug trafficking is not only that it is a health hazard in the sense of what drugs to do people, but the fact is this that drugs generate gangs and violence and create disorder and money laundering distorts economic systems, distorts the financial system and provide further resources for additional trafficking in drugs and money laundering. It is an ongoing cycle.
Gonsalves said that the interceptors would also be made available to the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) that groups that island and the nine-member OECS members states for joint operations.
He said as result, the interceptors would make it “ a lot more difficult for those who wish to play their trade”.