When presidents meet Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
September 26, 2003
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Many of you, with interest in these matters, would also be familiar with the protocols and procedures relevant and necessary before, during and after these “summits” - whether one-on-one or group meetings. Agendas, venues, security, teams and publicity or privacy are all considerations - replete with the inevitable photo-opportunities. I bet you would love to know of the informal personal pleasantries that are exchanged; the small talk, with or without deeper hidden meanings. But, most naturally, we must interest ourselves with the more serious issues the leaders discuss and, perhaps, agree upon. One way or another, the implications and decisions impact upon our daily living.
I suppose we can surmise or predict what say a President Jagdeo would want to raise with a George Bush these days. Whether the agenda was made known before-hand or not.
Despite the apparent publicity however, I suspect we never ever really know what two really powerful leaders agree or disagree upon wholly. At least not immediately after the talks. We know only what we are told, in the short term.
Imagine Mr Bush demanding certain conditions from the German Chancellor or the Japanese Prime Minister. The French, British or Australian leaders are not likely to speak or negotiate with guerilla leaders - as a national policy. But don’t be deceived by that stance always. Intermediaries and “envoys” are always available, especially as within the last decade or two “Today’s rebel leader can become tomorrow’s president.” Power - whether economic, strategic, security-wise - can speak to power. Unequals take more time.
If President Jagdeo ever got time to discuss only Guyana’s concerns with the “Leader of the Free World” earlier this week what did he prosecute, besides some stated or expected issues, requests and “demands”?
I suspect he - President Bharrat - could not persuade Mr Bush not to pursue terrorist wars which eat up money which could aid poor Americans and poorer states. He could not have “demanded” that the Americans leave Afghanistan or Iraq - as is popular these days. President Jagdeo could not have moved the powerful American Leader to abandon his protectionist (agricultural) domestic policies, or to persuade the Europeans to continue to award us, and the Caribbean - preferential prices, or markets, for our selected products. To me, there are few “demands” a leader such as ours could make of a strong Western Head heed.
However, the imp in me - an imp informed by the eventual universal inter-dependence so stridently, if crudely, articulated by Cheddi Jagan in 1996 - would want me to wish that our young President could find a way of reminding powerful Leaders of two of Cheddi’s basic facts. One, the pleas, or demands, from poor nations to better-off States, for aid and trade without bullyism or unfair conditionalities, are really to and for the mutual benefit of both the poor and the currently comfortable. After all, a developed state is better able to assist and trade with all other States. It is so simple it hurts. But powerful nations tend to be selfish, however generous they appear. The second implication, as Cheddi so roughly remarked to some United Nations reps in 1996, is that when no real, tangible sustained (mutual) assistance is granted by rich to poor, the “poor” will head towards the wealthy carrying their diseases, criminality, hopes, needs and sometimes unwanted items of survival. President Jagdeo may find ways of reminding the rich and powerful that the poor and powerless are not always as poor and powerless as they seem to be.
All countries have immigration laws and other regulations, which determine when and how persons born outside of their states can become full-fledged citizens. Any State has the right to protect and promote the welfare of its natural-born, tax-paying citizens, along with those it decides are eventually eligible to qualify as “naturalised” citizens. (What a term, “naturalised”. Anyhow, they too are “first-class”, I expect.)
In the USA, you might be aware, a powerful lobby of the organised common people is demonstrating for the recognition of (existing) rights and for the promulgation of some new “accommodation” rights for new legal immigrants as well as for the so-called “illegals” - the “undocumented” persons who live, work, pay taxes whether those levies are direct or hidden, and otherwise contribute to making America what it is. The organisers, patterning their Immigrants Movement after the Civil Rights Advocacy of the ‘sixties, have a packed agenda of demands, ranging from unification of immigrant families to, naturally, regularising and legalising the scared invisible contributors to America’s existence.
From New Mexico to Brooklyn the debate and the demonstrations will now gather momentum: Is it better, feasible to legalise all aliens or are you “cheapening citizenship” by absorbing millions who would endanger many aspects of your welfare system - especially if they can’t be made to work. Stay aware, if you have any interest in such issues.
1) The New York Police Department (NYPD), under severe public criticism from time to time, recently hosted the local (NY) media to join recruits in its academy classrooms and even its rifle-ranges and small arms training rooms.
Media operatives experienced situations demanding split-second decisions - even how difficult it is to shoot straight!
Wonder whether our Guyana media shouldn’t be similarly entertained?
2) Wasn’t too close to the Sarwan - GIHA Cricket Match issue. But funny that the West Indies Vice-Captain is not our Captain...
3) Catch the Guyana Cook-up Show and hear from some old - and new friends - not now resident within the borders.
‘Til next week!