Postpone the Fifth Summit of the Americas

By Stephen Kangal
January 27, 2009

Fifth Summit of the AmericasIt is imperative on the Manning Administration having regard to the current global financial and economic meltdown that is ravaging all Latin American economies to appreciate that it cannot spend over $2bn to provide an April platform for the conduct of hemispheric multilateral diplomacy as if it is business as usual. Since May 2008 when the T&T Concept Paper detailing the agenda of the Fifth POS Summit of the Americas was accepted, the economic, social and trading conditions in the 34- membership of the OAS including in the USA and the Summit Host, T&T, have deteriorated radically. Latin America is not the same today.

The April Fifth Summit of the Americas cannot now prosecute the same agenda as identified in June 2008. The Summit must engage in a rescue package of strategies.

The adverse environmental impact resulting from the use of fossil energy and the conservation of the hemispheric environment- top issues on the agenda of the April Summit are no longer as critical and compelling. The environmental preservation standards have been met by market forces.

The oil price meltdown (from $147 to $34), considerable reduction in oil consumption (30% to date), factory closures (reduction of CO2 emissions), reduction in pollution- causing maritime traffic (50%) and the near collapse of the pollution-generating Caribbean tourist and leisure industries have fundamentally altered the development-diplomacy Hemispheric operating environment.

The Hemisphere is now faced with a different cluster of more urgent, economic and social security-threatening challenges. These new front-burner issues demand the development of an urgent intra-hemispheric contingency response by the Summit to assist member countries to avert social and political unrest arising from escalating unemployment, bankruptcies, collapse of banks, widespread poverty, reduced government revenues, zero/negative GDP growth, the drying up of foreign remittances from the USA, reduction in commodity prices and the overnight disappearance of foreign markets in a range of manufactured goods and services. These are the real bread and butter issues to be addressed by the Summit – not diplomatic niceties and run of the mill issues.

The current Hemispheric concerns contained in the draft POS Declaration of the Fifth Summit of the Americas/Concept Paper have little or no relevance to these new medium-term and day- to- day pressing and urgent problems resulting from the US/global recession. Accordingly the hosting of the Fifth Summit of the Americas must be postponed for six months to allow enough time for technocrats, the private sector organizations and NGO’s to forge and brainstorm a completely new, more relevant and people-centred agenda.

The Summit must adequately treat with and be responsive to the fundamentally changed and current challenging hemispheric economic, trade, investment and financial climate. Participating delegations must attend in the full knowledge that they will derive value-for-money returns from their participation in the Summit.

The Obama Administration must appreciate that it has an inescapable obligation to lead the Hemisphere out of the recession having brought the respective member countries into their current economic woes. It is not enough to justify the holding of the Summit merely for the rest of the OAS to meet with the first black African-American President. More is needed to justify a $2bn expenditure by T&T.

In fact President Obama must make a Summit apology to its Hemispheric partners for having led them into the jaws of a cruel and oppressive recession for encouraging sub-prime mortgage lending in the housing market of the USA. He must also tell us what compensatory financing package is on the table for us.

Hemispheric Presidents and Prime Ministers will find it difficult to leave their capitals in April to dialogue on an agenda that is out-dated and will offer neither relief to their ailing economies nor respite from the decline of the social infrastructure.

The Hemisphere is fast becoming a powder-keg. It can explode on the smallest spark having regard to the high expectations of the people in the oil-producing countries of Latin America and cause social unrest.
A collectively-determined regional contingency response must be crafted as an aspect of economic disaster preparedness by the Summit.

7 Responses to “Postpone the Fifth Summit of the Americas”


  • While I share your “academic” views on this matter, I must ask that this Summit be postponed indefinitely by Trinidad & Tobago because the reality is, that the infrastructure of our Trinidad & Tobago outside of a 3-mile radius of the main towns/cities is just as it was more than 53 years ago when we got internal self-government. The rural communities lack roads, water on a regular basis, telephone service, important and adequate governmental services,and now more recently our bascic health sytems are failing dradstically, with long controlled diseases resurging, high birth mortalities and lack of adequate provision of vaccines for prevention.
    There is now way that our “small” Trinidad & Tobago can justify the spending of our needed resources to host this conference for only the self-angrandisment of the “Father of the Nation”

  • Can you be assured John S. Wildman that the clowns in charge would opt to spend the monies on the neglected infrastructure you are lamenting about ,or distribute same for the suffering masses across the racial and ethnic divide should they heed yours and others admonitions to postpone this costly summit?
    I am sure that you’ve already booked your trip to the South African World Cup even though the Mandela and Mbeki’s government in post Apartheid SA was atrocious to call it mildly, as they have done absolutely nothing to rectify the historically backward plight of the mainly majority African people that gave up their rights for the cause of justice, peace, and prosperity for evil miscreants and collaborators that held them in bondage and stole every thing they possess even to this day. I hope you have the ability to see the analogy.

  • looking at certain responses. We all boast that Trinidad and Tobago is the “rainbow country”, but re-read the blogs, at the of the day it’s about race. I believe that outside the political system, most of the citizens of T&T can unite. It’s the people involved in our political party that create this separation. The separation in our minds that eventually creates a negative reaction.
    But when I think, it is US that put them there. why must we be bought? why can’t we think of a longterm solution?
    In other islands/countries the people fight for their rights. But us trinis, only think short term- to be happy for a month or two and then we think then what?

  • Will the trinihaters who write on this blod, masquerading as nationalists and lovers of country please go jump in a liak? The Hollis reservoir in valencia is recommended for those at home. its difficut o get to, nd you would pollute poeple’s drinking water, but believe me, the ocuntry would move forward despire you. now, do it while you are full of rage so that your sould would be lost!

  • Somebody must have spiked the Gatorade of Ms L after all this last display of typographical errors. Now I have been known to produced a few mistakes myself , but being the beneficiary of a second rate education from one of our local non elite schools then this can be expected. No forgiveness will however be extended to Ms. L as she has certainly raised the bar in terms of standard ,when it comes to crossing one’s t and dotting one’s I on this forum.
    However , this might just be old school Chalkdusk-like sataire , and what do I know?

  • very interisting comments,i must say…but some of you need to understand how the world works and some of you need to just simply shut up.. i think that trinidadians are so blind its not even funny and yes guys im only 17 yrs old you guys are still going on with this PNM UNC bullshit when will you all realise governments around the world serves the people at only 40% a country is ran like a business sacrifices has to be made example the summit,it may seem crazy to spend 2billion at this crucial time but it is a sacrifice that has to be made.The country is elevating and this summit plays a very important part in that elevation it doesnt matter who’s in power ask your selves this question dont you think the UNC government whouldnt have made the same descision,and this one is for the racist illeteriate most obvious PNM supporter most government officials steal money,you tell me with all that money at hand you would not touch one penny i know i would…lol despite the stupid political partys you guys have in trinidad especially PNM and UNC just support and be proud of this moment you all are having in TnT especially the coming of my great african-american president barack obama who owes no one i mean no one an apology…

  • I agree that any political party given the power would do what they can to put that extra million in their pockets. But my point is, why can’t Trinidadians stand up for themselves. When we see unfair treatment/unfair expenditure etc lets not talk amongst ourseleves, what point is that making?
    We need to stand up! We are the one’s that put the government into place- we vote for them. we can make a change.

    On another note, yes i agree that the Summit is an investment, it can have a positive or neagtive effect on us. But at the same time look at what is happening based on the Upcomin Summit- they are actually building walls on the Beetham, cleaning it up. why? to make it not look like a slum so when President Obama passes he can not frown? couldnt this be done before?
    We need to stop talking and stop being afraid.
    as you said a “country is ran like a business sacrifices has to be made “

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