Categories
Foreign policy

China’s Growing Influence in the Caribbean

Caribbean flags
Caribbean flags, courtesy Sberla_/flickr

This article was originally published by the Institute for Defence Studies and Alalyses (IDSA) on 3 August 2016.

In June 2013, during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Trinidad and Tobago, the then Prime Minister of the Caribbean nation, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in a fawning speech, had lauded President Xi’s vision saying, “We see in your China Dream a splendid opportunity for China to become a model for the world.”(1) Like a royalty holding court, President Xi thereafter hosted the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, where he announced soft loans and investments worth US$ 3 billion as well as grants of up to $8 million for the region.(2) President Xi’s visit was an effective and a graphic demonstration of China’s growing influence and outreach in the English-speaking Caribbean region, coming at a time when the United States (US) had been somewhat less forthcoming with financial grants for the region.

President Xi’s visit to Trinidad was followed by a reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar to Beijing in February 2014, when, in a major breakthrough for Chinese arms sales to the region, the controversial purchase of a long-range maritime patrol vessel was agreed upon.(3) This was again a demonstration of the growing Chinese influence over the governments of the region, which so far had been firmly under the largely benevolent gaze and geopolitical sway of the US. The decision to buy Chinese patrol vessel also marked the first sale of a non-Western military hardware to the Caribbean nation since the end of the Cold War.(4) In fact, acceptance of Chinese aid and investment has since become a norm in the English-speaking Caribbean, where the US has been conspicuous by its absence in respect of doling out large bilateral loans and grants. In quite a contrast, while the private American investment declined post the 2008 financial crisis, the Chinese investment in the region grew by more than 500 per cent between 2003 and 2012.(5)

Categories
Security Defense

The US Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy

US Coast Guard machine gun boat near Puerto Rico. Image: Shannon Okey/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 5 March, 2015.

On September 2014, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) published its Western Hemisphere Strategy (WHS), a document explaining the vision, objectives, priorities, and initiatives that the USCG plans to take in the immediate future, in order to protect the US and support regional partners in the Western Hemisphere, notably in the Greater Caribbean. The WHS is an important document that requires in-depth research, since the USCG is greatly involved in the day-to-day counter-narcotic operations taking place in the Greater Caribbean. In this analysis, we aim to discuss the Western Hemisphere Strategy, primarily focusing on the USCG’s current and future security-related operations. 

Categories
Regional Stability

Time to Deal with the Epidemic of Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean

Police take a suspected drug trafficker off a helicopter in Hermosillo in the state of Sonora. Photo: Knight Foundation/flickr

The daily bloodshed on the United States’ doorstep is the clearest sign that something is rotten in the neighborhood. Headless torsos swinging from lampposts in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico contrast all too sharply with the clean streets of El Paso just across the border, ranked one of the safest city’s in the United States. But Mexico is not alone in experiencing alarming rates of violence. Taken together, the Americas are home to 14 percent of the world’s population, but more than 31 percent of its homicides according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

A ruthless epidemic of violence is afflicting many states and cities in Central and South America and the Caribbean. The region’s homicide rate is more than double the global average. And in contrast to other parts of the world, whether North America, Western Europe, Africa, or Asia, the patient is getting sicker. Six of the top ten most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, with most of the victims consisting of young men under 30-years of age. Violence against women is also intensifying. And for youth living in low-income settings, there is a 1 in 50 chance that they will be killed before they reach their 31st birthday.