Sun | Sep 25, 2016

What's up with this Rio Group?

Published:Friday | February 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor
, Sir:

While Jamaican and CARICOM folks slept, swapping nightmares about crime, cricket, drugs, debts and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), their leaders snuck out, Nicodemus-like, to Mexico to join the Rio Group. Sovereign nations can keep any company they choose and there may well be benefits to this latest association of which the uninitiated are unaware.

This Rio Group pointedly excludes the USA and Canada, and its
raison d'être
seems to be a Latin American hegemony as counterweight to North American influence. If all this means is swapping hip hop for samba, that's fine, but it may well have an impact on the Organisation of American States (OAS), where CARICOM has had at least some small voice, and beyond.

'Yes' men?

But our leaders seem to have contributed nothing more than "amen" to the Rio rhetoric in support of Argentina in its absurd cass-cass with Britain over the Falklands. Given their caning by Margaret Thatcher in 1982, one would have thought the Argentineans would by now have confined their bellicosity to the football field. But they are at it again !

In our interconnected world, a housing bubble bursting in Florida can have an impact on us as much as a fire down the road. Brazil, with its new-found economic muscle, may well want to tweak the beak of the American eagle, rub the Canadian beaver's nose in the snow and pull the tail of the wounded British lion. But how are soured relations with these three targeted countries in our interest?

As yet, there has been no reaction from up North, but given their political cultures, this is hardly surprising. No more surprising than subtle policy shifts towards the region, CARICOM being the most vulnerable, if the overblown rhetoric of Chávez, Lula and Castro become the Rio group's norm. The Jamaican/Caribbean diaspora in these three countries is at least the size of the CARICOM population. What looks like a major foreign policy shift would seem to require at least a cursory conversation between the leaders and the led, both at home and abroad.

I am, etc.,

ERROL W. A. TOWNSEND

ewat@rogers.com

Ontario

Canada