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Barbados’ Republican status is not a yen for pieces of silver 

By Sir Ronald Sanders

Among the most nonsensical statements uttered by a British Parliamentarian and repeated in the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, is that Barbados will become a Republic at the dictation of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

The unvarnished truth is that within the next decade all of the independent English-speaking Caribbean countries will likely become Republics. On November 30, Barbados will become the fourth, following Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica.

The move to Republican status will probably also be taken by Australia and other Commonwealth countries where the Queen remains the symbolic Head of State. After Barbados becomes a Republic, the Queen’s realms, other than Britain, will be reduced to 14, the majority of them (eight), being in the Caribbean.

It should be noted that when Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in June 1953, she also became Head of State of 67 other countries, then either colonies or dominions of Britain. Over the last 68 years, 52 of those countries opted to become Republics. Barbados will become the 53rd.

None of the countries that chose to become a Republic did so because of pressure from China or any other country. They became republics because, even though the Queen’s role was only symbolic, exercising no real executive authority, it was simply not acceptable that a foreign person, residing thousands of miles away with no daily experience of life in a country, could credibly be its Head of State.

Indeed, breaking the link with the Queen as Head of State, also completed the process of national sovereignty and independence from Britain as the former colonial power.

There are two reasons why the remaining eight independent English-speaking Caribbean countries have not already moved to Republican status. The first is that, for many of them, a Constitutional amendment will be required. Political parties in government know well that this would become a political football for their political opponents, with allegations that governing parties want a republic so that they can assume greater powers and control. Notwithstanding, the examples of Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago where presidents have little more than symbolic roles, this argument will have its supporters.

The second reason is a residual and deserving respect for Queen Elizabeth who, in the almost seven decades as Head of State, has been an example of rectitude, particularly on matters of race. Her stance against apartheid in South Africa and the end to white rule in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) are enduring qualities of her reign.  But the high regard for the Queen will not transfer to her successor. Prince Charles has already been selected to succeed the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations that includes the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean. This transition will be regarded as important and satisfactory.

The notion that Barbados is becoming a Republic because the Queen’s symbolic headship of the country stands in the way of Chinese ambition, is nothing but utter foolishness. It started in September this year when the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the British House of Commons, Tom Tugendhat, said that: “China has been using infrastructure investment and debt diplomacy as a means of control for a while and it’s coming closer to home for us. British partners have long faced challenges from rivals seeking to undermine our alliance. Today we’re seeing it in the Caribbean. Some islands seem to be close to swapping a symbolic Queen in Windsor for a real and demanding emperor in Beijing”.

We should note that Tugendhat has long adopted an anti-China position, having nothing to do with Barbados. His remark about Barbados “swapping” the Queen for “a demanding” Chinese Emperor is less about Barbados and more about his taking every opportunity to criticize what he calls “the rise of China”.  As I remarked, in a commentary, when Tugendhat first tried to align Barbados’ decision to become a Republic with China’s influence, given the fact that he is the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the British parliament, he should have been better informed. But clearly, he was more interested in accusing China of seeking world control than he was with the truth of the Barbados decision.

On November 20, the Sunday Times carried a story, written by journalist, Matthew Campbell, which had the appearance of carrying the views of many persons in Barbados, but which was more selective in its reporting. The story was evidently meant to justify its headline: “Awash with cash from Beijing, the island is ditching the Queen. Some fear it is simply swapping one colonial master for another”. Again, the truth, that will not acknowledge its name, is that the persons, who peddle the fears of “the Chinese will end up in control”, are the same people who would have preferred that Barbados remain ‘little England’ which bestowed upon them perceived rights that they feel they have lost.

Tugendhat’s assertion, supported by like-minded persons in Barbados and elsewhere, of the threat of Chinese dominance, fails to understand the mettle of Caribbean leadership, and especially of the fierce nationalist and regionalist disposition of Mia Mottley. His judgment, and theirs, are rooted in the condescending colonial mindset that our people cannot think for themselves.

Caribbean countries need economic assistance because of their vulnerability and the legacies of colonialism that underlay their structures of economic weakness. Their leaders and their people want to advance their countries’ social and economic development. To achieve this, they engage in economic and financial cooperation with all in a fair and just way. But they will not surrender hard-won sovereignty because of a yen for pieces of silver.

10th Anniversary of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on Urgent Reform of the Commonwealth

 

October 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the Report of the 2011 Eminent Persons Group (EPG) entitled:  A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform

The report can be read on this website.  The link is:

EPG Report FINALprintedVersion.pdf (sirronaldsanders.com)

Latest News in Pictures

Participating as a delegate from Antigua and Barbuda in the Summit of 40 Leaders on Climate, organised by us President, Joseph Biden, on 22 and 23 April 2021.  Sir Ronald second from left at top.

 

With the late Right Honourable Professor Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados at his office at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in January 2020, talking Caribbean integration

 

Meeting between US Congressional Representatives, Global Banks and Caribbean government representative.  Congresswoman Maxin Waters (centre in red), Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne to her right, Sir Ronald Sanders to Prime Minister Browne's right.  Capitol Hill on November 14, 2019

 

Signing agreements for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, DC on 24 July 2019.  The agreemenst were signed by the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders (sitting right) and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Citaku (sitting left). Frymezin Isufaj and Joy-Dee Davis. Ministers Coundellor (standing left to right)

 

 Speaking at US Capitol Hill in behalf of CARICOM during Caribbean Legislative Week on 5 June 2019

 

Meeting Wesley Kirton Co-Chair Caribbean Studies Associaton, US, and Captain Gerry Gouveia of the Guyana Privat Sector at Antigua and Barbuda Embassy, Washington, DC on 4 June 2019

 

On 15 May, 2019 with the formidable US Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is Chair of the Financail Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.  I had presentred the case against de-risking, withdrawal of correspondent banking relations and blacklisting alone with CARICOM Ministers of National Security. 

 

 Testifying on 14th May, 2019 before the US International Trade Commission on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and Caribbaean States on the perennial US trade surplus with the region which reached $7 Billion in 2018. 

 

Sir Ronald at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking trade and other relations between the US and CARICOM countries, especially Antigua and Barbuda, with Cingressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) on  27 February 2019.

 

Caribbean Ambassadors in Washington with US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Kim Breier, at the US State Department. Sir Ronald third from right in January 2019. 

 

In July 2018, while in Ottawa for Antigua and Barbuda bilateral talks with Canadian government officials, Sir Ron ran into old and repected friend, Joe Clarke - former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Canada and a great warrior in the anti-apartheid struggle.

 

With Ambassador Jesus Silvera of Panama, receiving a donation to the rebuilding of Barbuda, June 2018

 

With OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, on 6 June 2018, signing the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and  Related Forms of Intolerance.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first signatory to the Convention and the second country to ratify the Convention. 
 

 Signing ceremony in Washington, DC of Abolition of Visa Requirements between Ukraine and Antigua and Barbuda in May 2018.  Ukraine Amnbasador (left) and Joy-Dee Davis, Minister Counsellor, Antigua and Barbuda Embassy (right) 

 

 With Governor-General of Canada,Her Excellency Julie Payette, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 30th 2018.  In addition to beeing accredited to Canada as High Commissioner, I have the honour of sharing the distinction with this amazing former Astronaut of being a Senior Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

 

In Tobago after delivering feature address at The Tobago Finance week on 13 November 2017.  Photo shows, Economist Terrence Farrell, Sir Ronald, Tobago Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, and Anthony Pierre, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Chartered Accountants

 

 In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad speaking at the annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago on 9 November 2017

 

 Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, prior to appearnace at the World Trade Organisation on Antigua and Barbuda's contention with the US government on the WTO award to Antigua over Internet Gaming, September 2017 

 

 Speaking on Refugees resulting from Climate Change and the growing danger to small island states at an event organised by OXFAM in Washington, DC on 30 October 2017. (Heather Coleman, OXFAM; Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda; Selwyn Hart (Barbados), Lisa Friedman, New York Times)

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.  He was talking about the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma and the remedies for Climate Change and Global Warming.  To his left are:  The Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and St Lucia Prime Minister Alan Chastanet

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the security and other threats posed to the Caribbean and the Hemisphere of Climate Change and Global Warming on 13 September 2017

 

 Sir Ronald (third right) with senior officers of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, DC after discussing what assistance could be given in the clean up and rebuilding of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma (Friday, 15 September 2017)

 

With US Congressman, Ranking member of Committee on Foreign Affairs at Capitol Hill on 14 September, discussiing secutty matters, Hurricane Irma and Barbuda and the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues.  Very helpful.

 

 With US Congressman Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill talking the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues, and the effets of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda on 12 September, 2017.  Good man. 

 

 Talking to the Emergency Agencies of the OAS about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda and seeking assistance on 14 September 2017

 

Sir Ronald with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on 28 August 2017 discussing Canada-Antigua and Barbuda bilateral matters.

 

Sir Ronald with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States in Cancun, in June 2017

 

Heads of Delegations to the OAS General Assembly in Cancun.  Mexican Presdident, sixth from right, front row.  Sir Ronald fourth from right, front row.

 

Meeting of Consulation on the situation in Venezuela at the Organisation of American States on 31 May 2017 Sir Ronald (far right).

 

With Texas Congressman Randy Weber at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking energy, water and US-Antigua and Barbuda relations on Wednesday 5 April, 2017 

 

 

With my colleague Argentine Ambassador to the OAS, Juan Jose Acuri (right) and the Argentina candidate for election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rigjts Dr Carlos de Casas on 29 March 2016

 

 At the International Monetary Fund with Exceutive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, Nancy Horsman, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

At the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy receiving Antonia Urrejola, the candidate of Chile for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, on 23 March 2017 

 

 With the Mexican Candidate for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernadez Garcia, on 21 March 2017

 

 At the World Bank on20 March 2017 meeting Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, to talk about Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

With Joe Barton, US Congressman from the State of Texas in his Office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 16 March 2017 discussing US-Antigua and Barbuda relations

 

Hosting a meeting at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Washington, DC of diplomatic representatives of St Lucia (Ambassador Anton Edmunds, St Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Thelma Phillip-Browne and St Vincent Deputy Chief of Mission Omari Williams)

 

Meeting the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cabanas Rodriguez at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

 

With the Ambassador of Ecudaor to the United States, Francisco Borja Cevallos, talking Ecuador-Antigua and Barbuda relations on 13 February 2017

 

 With US Congressman Gus Bilikakis (Dem,Fl) for talls on Caiptol Hill in Washington

 

With Charlie Crist, US Congressman (Dem, Fl) for discussions on US-Antigua and Barbuda matters

 

 With US Senator Jeff Duncan, Chair Foreign Relations Committee talking energy and Citizenship by Investement Programmes in the Caribbean

 

 With Professor Louis Gates Jr at the Smithsonian National Musuem of African American History in Washington, DC after an evening of enlightening presentations on the neglected story of the building of the US 

Sir Ronald Statements at the OAS

Two statements made at the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April, 2018 have been posted in the "Lectures" section.    The statements are on:  The Guatemala Referendum authorising the Government to take the border dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice; and a Report on the General Elections held in Antigua and Barbuda on 21 March, 2018.

TV Interviews in the US

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) carried two programmes, coast-to-coast on 23 stations in the US on the Caribbean, featuring interviews with three Caribbean Ambassadors including Sir Ron.   The YouTube links to the programmes are below:

PART ONE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPWd8qSRdTY&feature=youtu.be

PART TWO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtjZgRC9rU&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

 

The TV Network CSPAN interviewed Sir Ronald in a cost-to-coast boadcast on the effects of Hurricanes and other matters related to Antigua and Barbuda.   The link to the interview is below:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?434242-3/washington-journal-ronald-sanders-discusses-impact-irma-antigua-barbuda


All posts...

Election for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General

Sir Ronald was a candidate for election to the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General In November 2015 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. View further details here.

Portrait of Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is currently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

Welcome

Welcome to this website. I created it in 2009 in response to many requests for access to commentaries I have written, lectures I have given and interviews that have been broadcast or printed in the media on matters related to the political economy of the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.  They are all avaialble here for free.

These requests have come from university students, publications, academics, government officials and business people in many parts of the world. In the course of responding to these requests, I have been pleased to build up a network of global contacts who now receive my commentaries weekly.

From a career that encompassed broadcast and print journalism, development and commercial banking, diplomacy and international negotiations in both the public and private sectors, I am privileged to draw on wide and varied experiences to write, lecture and undertake consultancies.  The latter activity was susended while I carry out my present functions as Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda. 

I have taken the greatest pleasure in receiving comments and criticism from people all over the world that the Internet has made a “village”. I have learned from many of the comments I received. They have caused me to reflect on my own thinking. Through this website, I hope to communicate regularly with all who write to me.

The website is now a permanent repository of the weekly commentaries and lectures going back several years. Anyone is free to access them here, and to cite them provided my permission is sought in advance through the “Contact me” mechanism. A few of the lectures I have given in Britain and in the Caribbean are also posted on the site in a PDF format which can be easily downloaded. Again, I would make the same request to seek my permission before citing the material.

I invite responses to my writings, and inquiries about the experience and knowledge I can bring to achieving the objectives of companies and organizations that do business related to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Kind regards

Ronald Sanders