President Obama, and Secretary of State Clinton will be heading to Trinidad for the Summit of the Americas.
Amb. Jeffrey Davidow, President Barack Obama's special advisor on the upcoming Summit of the Americas, briefed the State Department press today on plans for the summit, which is scheduled to take place April 17 to 19 in Trinidad and Tobago. Leading the U.S. delegation will be Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said.
On the U.S. agenda for the 34-nation summit, Davidow said, are the economy, the issues of inequity and social development, the environment, clean energy, and public safety.
Obama "is going to Trinidad with the intention of listening, discussing, and dealing with his colleagues as partners," Davidow said. "One of his concerns, and indeed the concerns of everyone at the summit, but particularly of the President and the Secretary of State, is the question of equity."
I have assigned the students in my Caribbean Studies class to pay attention to the press coverage of the event, and to discuss the issues facing the Caribbean (specifically) and Latin America (in general).
AP had this article:
Obama will spend Friday through Sunday in the twin-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 34 Western Hemisphere nations. The leaders are eager for their own photo-opportunity moments with Obama, but they also want assurances that the U.S. is going to fix its economy and help them recover too.
"The perception coming up from the south (is) that in recent years the United States has turned its attention elsewhere, has neglected its relationships in this part of the world," Jeffrey Davidow, Obama's principal adviser for the summit, told reporters Monday night.
"Whether one agrees with that perception or not, it certainly is a very strongly felt perception," he said. "And I think this summit will give him the opportunity to meet with all the heads of state, listen to them, exchange views and come away with new ideas."
Each semester, I open my class handing out blank maps of the Caribbean Basin, asking students to put names to each country.
I have never had a student who could identify more than 5. Even students whose parents are from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic fail to identify more than the islands of their own ancestry.
The average is 2 or 3 - and some students cannot identify any of the island or mainland basin countries or areas.
When asked to identify Caribbean heads of State, the only name the students can come up with is Fidel Castro.
Sadly, the Caribbean is an area that gets news coverage only when a hurricane is passing over on the way to Miami. Rarely is much (or anything) taught about the Caribbean in high schools, and there is still very little at the college level.
Yet much of the history of the rise of modern industrial capitalism is rooted in the wealth provided by the Triangle Slave Trade and New World sugar production.
For those of you who'd like to take the test see if you can correctly place:
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Panama, Panama Canal Zone
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Martin (France)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
USVI- St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John
Answers found here.
I will be following the news coverage of the event, from Caribbean as well as mainland news sources and hope to have more diaries about it, and issues affecting the region in the days ahead.
So how well did you do?