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Brazil joins ‘Coalition of the Willing’ for Argyle airport


Another nation is on the verge of joining Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ “coalition of the willing” in the construction of the US$200 million international airport at Argyle.{{more}}

Add Brazil to the ever-growing list of countries that the government has been able to secure assistance from, as they piece together the funds and assistance needed to see what will be the largest capital project in the history of this nation comes to fruition.

Prime Minister Gonsalves reported that this willingness to assist was expressed during bilateral talks between him and President Luiz Inacio Lua da Silva of the South American giant, during the just concluded Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago.

“They are interested in making an important contribution to the project,” Dr Gonsalves said.

He said that Brazil, which boasts the 10th largest economy in the world, will also be setting up an embassy here, and steps will be taken to provide scholarships and other training to Vincentians.

Dr Gonsalves used the opportunity to express his appreciation to the Patrick Manning administration of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the historic Summit, which was attended by Barack Obama, who last November created history by becoming the first African American president of the United States of America.

It was the first time that a summit of such a magnitude was hosted by a CARICOM territory.

As he reflected on the summit, and particularly the attitude of Obama, Gonsalves said that there was a “greater sense of respect” that could be seen in the interactions.

He confirmed that in the summit, and in his meeting with CARICOM, Obama demonstrated his diplomatic approach, which is that of mutual respect, a willingness to listen, rather than that of speaking down to and dictating because of the United States’ superpower status.

“You get the sense that there was a dialogue, there is an engagement,” the Prime Minister said.

He said that Obama said that he did not know the extent of Cuba’s developmental assistance in the area of health care, especially regarding the large number of Cuban doctors that have been dispatched to neighbouring countries, including St Vincent and the Grenadines to assist in the delivery of health care.

Obama himself made mention of this during his press conference following the Summit, held at the Trinidad Hilton.

The president suggested that America will have to rethink it’s foreign policy saying that its strength must not only be seen in the fight against drugs and in its military but also in areas of development.

Dr Gonsalves said that Obama exuded an attitude that said that while he was connected to the past “he is not bound by the past.”

Gonsalves however cautioned against having too high of expectations for Obama’s presidency.

He suggested that in the complex world of American politics, where concessions often have to be made to get programmes and policies passed through the various levels of the US legislature, not everything that Obama may want to do and change may get done.

Gonsalves presented Obama with a book written by Vincentian author Rhonda King entitled “Caribbean Sense of Life; a photographic narrative”, which features an essay entitled “Our Caribbean Civilization” which was delivered by Dr Gonsalves in 2003 at a CARICOM distinguished lectures’ series.