Region reacts with caution to President-elect Trump

Caribbean governments have reacted cautiously to the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.

While all governments sent congratulatory messages, in some cases indicating a willingness to work with the incoming administration, most were restrained.

In an editorial, the Jamaica Observer noted that the single thread running through the Caribbean response was uncertainty, commenting that “nothing was predictable about what the next US Administration will do.”

The newspaper said that Caribbean ministers will have to seek every opportunity to connect with US Cabinet members as part of the early education process about the Caribbean.

“The US has chosen its president and its congressional representatives in accordance with its constitution and its laws. That deal is done. This is not a time for hand wringing and lamentation; it is a time for engagement, persuasion and negotiation in the region’s interest,” the publication concluded.

In his message to President-elect Trump, the Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who is close to the Republican Party, emphasised his government’s intention to build on existing initiatives and to explore new opportunities, as well as his desire to strengthen US/Caribbean relations. He said that he looked forward to a shared commitment to achieving and maintaining economic growth and development that benefitted people throughout the Western Hemisphere.

In a more constrained message the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, said that he trusted that the excellent friendly relations “between our peoples would continue through trade and cultural exchanges, and that all the cooperation and technical assistance programmes that have united both countries for many years will continue.”

However, in an indication of widespread regional concerns, his Vice President Margarita Cedeño expressed the hope that Mr Trump would deliver on his pledge to work for unity in the United States, then separately, via her Twitter account, praised Hillary Clinton as a symbol of courage and bravery for speaking for the vulnerable. “I admire Hillary Clinton, a true fighter. You lost the election, but you have won your place in history,” she wrote.

In an unprecedented move for a Dominican President or Vice President in a foreign election, Ms Cedeño had earlier actively campaigned among Dominican-Americans in support of Mrs Clinton.
In contrast, Cuba’s President Raul Castro sent an apparently terse one-line message which read: “On the occasion of your election as President of the United States of America, I send you congratulations.”

A longer-term view
Taking a longer-term view, the St Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister, Mark Brantley, said in an interview with WINN FM that he expected his country and CARICOM to engage actively with the incoming US Administration.

“America is a country of structure; it’s a country which has within its constitution checks and balances, so my expectation would be that President-elect Trump will function as……

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