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Political sovereignty and foreign policies


Our nation received its political independence on 27th October, 1979; however, many of our brothers and sisters are yet to fully grasp the true meaning of such an historical occasion. In other words, many have not been able to make the transition from colonial to post-colonial governance. The question that bothers me however is whether the failure to make the transition is a willful act, or one arising out of an ignorance of our circumstances.

The term Independence cannot be properly understood outside of the context of an understanding of the sovereignty of states. If a country is to fully harness its external resources it must develop and embrace a well structured, planned and conceived foreign policy.{{more}} A forward looking foreign policy not mask in timidity and shyness, but one which is assertive and works in the interest of the holistic development of its people. It must here be noted that the adoption of a particular course is not to be measured against acts of perfection since the international environment is ever changing to adapt to responses triggered by the fortunes and misfortunes of globalization. It is within this volatile environment that there must be constant adjustments by our governments.

The effects of decolonization

When states began to function as politically independent and sovereign entities, they realized that one of the most important attributes of state sovereignty was economic sovereignty. It was viewed and rightly so, that without economic sovereignty, that political sovereignty was incomplete. Asserting economic sovereignty meant having control over the economic activities of both domestic and foreign entities with which relations were created. These included on the domestic level relations between the private sector and government, and on the international level the relation between foreign investment and state, and the government.

The advancement of a strong and independent foreign policy is dependent on full sovereignty over ones natural resources and the freedom to associates with foreign states as a government so desires in the interest of its people.

Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States 1974

Chapter 11 of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States 1974 states that

“Every state has the sovereign and inalienable right to choose it economic system as well as its political, social and cultural systems in accordance with the will of its people, without outside interference, coercion or threat in any form whatsoever.”

From a close analysis of the foreign policies adapted by the present government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines it is clear that none of our actions fall outside of the ambit or parameter of the Charter. What haunts some of our leaders is that their way of thinking is locked in a pre-independence mode where the colonial experience is proving to have more deep-rooted carves than we could ever imagine. In recent times the relationship between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela has been brought under the microscope.

The case of Venezuela

There was a coup d’etat on April 11th, 2002 in Venezuela. An unlikely bond between labor unions, business associations and the elite military command had been formed with a common goal, to remove President Hugo Chavez. Pedro Carmona, then president of Venezuela’s chamber of commerce, assumed the position of ‘interim president’ of the nation and quickly dissolved all of Venezuela’s core democratic institutions.

In the United States, the Bush Administration expressed its support for the Carmona government and refused to recognize that a military-corporate coup had occurred. The United States stood practically alone in its recognition of Carmona as a “legitimate head” of State. On the other hand, the OAS, Caricom and nations of the EU, with the exception of Spain, all issued statements or comments condemning the coup and refusing to acknowledge Carmona as President of Venezuela. President Chavez was elected by approximately 60% of the vote in 1998, defeating Venezuela’s traditional two parties, Accion Democratica and COPEI, by a landslide.

The reality is clear. Today, the United States of America has strong economic relations with Venezuela through its increasing trade relations, however it is still a looming question as to whether its political relations are going forward or backward. Our government has exercised prudence in advocating that we are “Friends of all and Satellite of none.” Our increased trade relationship with Venezuela is one that has brought and will continue to bring many positive returns to our nation. As a sovereign state we must assert our political sovereignty, and in so doing we must chart our journey to reflect a lack of political dependence on either the United States of America or Venezuela. Our government has acted with wisdom.