Will Lobbyists Now Replace TT Diplomats in the USA?

By Stephen Kangal
March 02, 2017

Stephen KangalThe Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley in his usual unrehearsed statement made in the House on Friday 23 February during the debate of the final FATCA sitting raises a number of policy decisions the chief amongst which is whether his Government proposes to liquidate and close our foreign missions accredited to Washington and replace them with highly paid lobbyists to tell the real truths as he put it.

Our Missions enjoy more credibility and are better equipped information- wise to represent/safeguard/promote the vital interest of T&T. They are considered more authoritative as official purveyors of the position of the Government. They have direct access to all the corridors of power in Washington and elsewhere. T&T cannot be penalized by mistake as he believes because the USA is a democratic country that does not operate by vaaps.

The issue of hiring lobbyists arose recently in Georgetown when the Inter-sessional Meeting of Caricom Heads agreed to hire them to mitigate and insulate them from the loss of corresponding US banking access and facilities from the delayed non-compliance of FATCA by Caricom countries. The Prime Minister knew at the meeting in Georgetown that the FATCA Bill would be passed on Friday 23 February and T&T will be well on the road to avoiding de-banking, de-risking and other US-inspired punitive measures for non-FATCA compliance.

T&T does not need these expensive Caricom employed lobbyists to be identified, chosen and paid exclusively by the Prime Minster of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr Gaston Browne. Will he choose his American friends and issue lobbying guidelines favourable exclusively to his OECS countries and get the rest of Caricom to pay US $240,000 including T&T that does not need FATCA lobbyists having been declared FATCA compliant?

It would appear that the Rowley Administration when cornered by MP Dr Roodal Moonilal in the House on the Caricom lobbyists initiative sought to justify it by citing reasons to suggest that the most expensive T&T diplomatic presence on the US is useless at worst or that this layer of expensively accredited bureaucracy will co-exist and /or be duplicated side by side with highly paid un-vetted and unaccountable cadre of professional lobbyists?

These professional lobbyists are couched in the same ilk as former US diplomat James Jatras who the Prime Minister vilified for second time and discredited under the cover of parliamentary privileges only because the former dared to commend Kamla on her brave letter to President Trump and expose naked and big stick American imperialism in the FATCA imposition. He vilified Jatras the messenger because he could not understand nor appreciate the salient message on the protection of our sovereignty that Jatras was conveying to all T&T.

Dr Rowley does not understand that all T&T expects him to make the requisite qualitative leap from Mason Hall to Whitehall and not the geographical or political one that forms the subject of his book that he is peddling illegally in shopping malls across the nation while still in Office at Whitehall.

6 Responses to “Will Lobbyists Now Replace TT Diplomats in the USA?”


  • Whether we like it or not lobbyist appears to be the means to reach the ears of the President of the United States. It is costly but the Prime Minister was able to speak to Trump and Trump even issued him an invitation to visit Washington.

    The head of the TNT embassy in Washington could not do this. The embassy in Washington is necessary but the person in charge has to be a player to get notice. By that i mean the person must familiarize themselves with the movers and shakers in Washington. The terrain in Washington has change and will continue to require new vehicles. A challenging task given the value place on time by these US senators and congressmen. Trump is surrounded by a cabal that is difficult to penetrate.

    Bannon would be the man to befriend if you want to get Trump ears. That is a project for the head of the TNT embassy. The truth is at times it is better to stay under the radar than to rise above it and become a target. As Trump settles into his office Keith can become the conduit to change Caribbean and Latin American politics. Muduro might be wanting to find a way out of the mess that Venezuela is in, time for TNT to save tge Simon Boliva legacy by engaging Muduro with Trump.

  • Lobbyists and Diplomats have different roles and responsibilities. They can be and must be distinguishable one from the other. OK? Once again you have done damage to any shred of credibility you have left. No wonder you remained a low level diplomat. This entire column was badly written and riddled with inaccuracies. It is purely and wholly a political piece; literally from the mouths of the failed UNC. I await anything from you, given your ‘vast’ experience in public service, that is worthy of a deeply considered response.

  • For one who claims to have foreign service experience, I find the writer to be somewhat ignorant or nefariously provocative in concluding that we do not NEED a lobbyist or that money spent on a lobbyist is wasted money. The word NEED is very important when it is viewed strategically, informatively and most important productively. Diplomacy is described as ‘the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way’. Given that as the basis of understanding how a country snakes its way into gaining or favoring international attention, one CANNOT stick itself on the sand and just represent itself in a singular form to identify all that the country has to offer. In the foreign service, there are ambassadors, consulates, trade missions and other levels of communications that a country might need from time to time to gain favors and establish worthiness. For one to say that we only need an ambassador or a consulate to manage our international affairs is foolhardy at best. We have to use every tool available to us to promote what we offer to sell. Thus if we are offering our culture as a motivator to tourism, then we may use the ambassadorial route. If we want to concentrate on servicing our nationals abroad, then the consulate route might be best. If we want to introduce our cocoa and coffee as the agricultural products to compete with other markets, then a trade mission might be the best route.

    Foreign affairs is a necessary tool promote our products, culture and skills. When that is done effectively, we create internal jobs and avenues for our citizens to be productive. When the writer states “These professional lobbyists are couched in the same ilk as former US diplomat James Jatras who the Prime Minister vilified for second time and discredited under the cover of parliamentary privileges only because the former dared to commend Kamla on her brave letter to President Trump and expose naked and big stick American imperialism in the FATCA imposition.” he is talking party party politics. That should not be confused with diplomacy. Thus, when Maravalgirl tells him “Lobbyists and Diplomats have different roles and responsibilities. ” she is right. What Kangal is doing is stating ‘preference’ as his motive for this article NOT diplomacy. While he sees Kamla’s letter to Trump as a “great” political maneuver, I see it as being dumb. Because Trump ignored her letter and instead invited Rowley for a state visit.

    What Kangal is doing is using his career experience as a diplomat to further UNC policies not national and regional cooperative goals. The fact the CARICOM acted as a group to hire a lobbyist for further enhance regional attention from the Trump presidency is not a waste of money. Lobbyists operate with a different set of goals that differ from ambassadors, consulates and trade missions. They operate with a point of view gaining the ear and attention of people in the home state that they can go directly to in order to have their cooperation in identifying what country might have to sell or buy to the host country. In such cases the “lobbyist” is best qualified to do the job because he has the ‘know-how’ to make it happen.

    Foreign affairs is a wide and open field that all kinds of skills are necessary to accomplish a given goal. Thus when Kangal says “The Prime Minister knew at the meeting in Georgetown that the FATCA Bill would be passed on Friday 23 February and T&T will be well on the road to avoiding de-banking, de-risking and other US-inspired punitive measures for non-FATCA compliance.” He is pulling wool over our eyes to say that Rowley knows that Kamla and the UNC will eventually vote for FATCA, therefore there was no need to spend money on how FATCA will eventually play out for us when it is implemented. That is foolish talk.

    When people take it upon themselves to publish opinions that they believe is worthy to be commented upon, they must first study the implications of the points they make. IN this case, what Kangal is really selling is UNC propaganda, not diplomatic essentials that we need to achieve given national goals and aspirations. Thus when Maravalgirl said “No wonder you remained a low level diplomat. This entire column was badly written and riddled with inaccuracies.” She was spot on. There was no enlightenment in this article and it was pointless as an objective task.

  • We do not need a lobbyist. What are we trying to export???…oil and gas? A little to late for a lobbyist. What we need to ask is what is the American Chamber of Commerce doing for us here in TnT. The AmCham has one of THE largest lobbying group in Washington worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The AmCham has a presence in almost every single third world country and is thriving as they are struggling to stay alive in the EU. The reason why: The AmCham lobbies for businesses like Coke, Tobacco, Alcohol, Fast Food, and all the bad and unhealthy products that kill off brown people. The EU does not tolerate the bad stuff. But here we are buried in fast food and obesity..you just have to visit a Govt. Ministry and look around at the workers..all fat and sitting around waiting for lunch at a Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks, Church’s Fried Chicken, and etc. Look, we do not need a lobbyist..what we need are stronger negotiators at the table who fight for us to export our products in stronger markets (we actually have little or no exports now)..oh geez..we have nothing to export except peppers and Sriracha is already imported here thanks to AmCham…this is sad. Anyway, at least we have some natural minerals but that is also wasted as we are now competing with other countries that have strong exports with similar products. We are screwed and a lobbyist is a waste of funds. We should be spending more on infrastructure, on education, on training and on retaining the brain here and not draining it to other countries. this has nothing to do with UNC or PNM or whoever..it has to do with economic powers. We are already a slave to the US and we will be importing energy from the USA soon as Trump is slated to increase US exports. More Ford, Rangers, more online universities and guess what..we now have the Money Tree here in TnT and they are lending our locals tons of cash. We need to watch our own back yard….
    Nice Article Mr. Kangal

  • It all depends on what we are willing and doing to compromise not just sovergnity but human dignity. And just how far are we going to hand our hearts where we cannot reach it.

    It is not just following everybody else because of fears and insecurities but are we really the leaders who should be inspiring and uplifting human beings to motivate and sustain the well fare of each one for a better country.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.