Mon | May 25, 2020

Trump’s tactic to ‘divide and conquer’ - ‘Jamerican’ Congresswoman Yvette Clarke urges Holness, others to be wary of gamesmanship

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:29 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Congressman Yvette Clarke, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws at UTech’s graduation ceremony on the weekend.
Congressman Yvette Clarke, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws at UTech’s graduation ceremony on the weekend.

Jamaican and Caribbean leaders have been cautioned to avoid becoming victims in the Trump administration’s geopolitical gamesmanship.

United States Congresswoman Yvette Clarke says that she was not surprised that President Donald Trump invited a select group of Caribbean leaders to meet with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

“Donald Trump has always looked for ways to divide and conquer, and clearly, his interactions with US-based Caribbean leadership have been strained just based on his policy towards people of colour,” said Clarke.

Trump met with five heads of government representing Jamaica, The Bahamas, St Lucia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, in March.

He had promised them that a high-level delegation from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the United States development lender, would visit each nation during 90 days following that meeting.

Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness was reported to have hailed the meeting as more than talk and said he was anticipating “real investment”.


Clarke, who represents Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District and who received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Technology in Kingston on Sunday, said that all that Trump was seeking to accomplish was a validation of his behaviour.

“He’s always looking for ways to ... impress upon and influence folks outside the country who do not necessarily have to live directly with his recklessness. So I did not find it strange that he sought to meet with select Caribbean leaders. It’s been one of his tactics since he has been in office,” she said in an interview with The Gleaner on Wednesday.

“Remember, it was a similar tactic used on the African descendant population very early on [in his tenure] when he invited the leadership of several historically black universities and colleges to the White House, and people wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt to establish goodwill, yet those institutions have not benefited from those interactions with Donald Trump,” Clarke, a Democrat, said of her Republican rival.

Meanwhile, she asserted that immigration – one of the hot tops on the hustings – would be a factor in the 2020 presidential election, influencing the pulse of Jamaican expatriates and others from the West Indies.

Historically, immigrants from the Caribbean tend to settle mostly along the East Coast of the US, mainly in tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut). Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina also have sizeable Caribbean and Jamaican populations.

Clarke pointed out that the appalling performance by Trump had not gone unnoticed and that Democrats would let their votes do the talking on election day, November 3, 2020.

“There is a convergence in that we are examining the conduct of Mr Trump while at the same time, we are gearing up for the presidential elections, which have brought all of this to the attention of the American people,” Clarke said.

Trump is currently the target of an impeachment inquiry into his conduct with foreign leaders.

Both of Clarke’s parents were immigrants from Jamaica, and her mother, Una Clarke, was a former city councilwoman in New York.