Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that he would not have attended had he been invited to attend the meeting in Florida last Friday where four CARICOM leaders met with US president Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and some of this other CARICOM colleagues had criticised the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of Haiti, Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Lucia, four CARICOM nations, as well, as the Dominican Republic.
“And if I were invited, I would have said no, I can’t come,” he said on Boom FM on Tuesday.
However, asked if he was peeved because he was not invited to attend, Gonsalves said:
“Oh Jesus! Heavenly Father, there are politicians in the United States running away from President Trump, I must run to him? Come on!” Gonsalves said.
“It’s not that I belittle his position. He’s an important leader, the leader of the most important country in the world but you don’t just run to people because they invite you.”
Gonsalves said that many years ago, US Vice President Al Gore had invited CARICOM prime ministers to a meeting and then Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Sir James Mitchell said he was not going to Washington to meet a vice-president.
“Now, one could have critiqued him as how much one wants, but he took a position on a principle as he saw it,” Gonsalves said.
“You think that Prime Ministers Williams, Manley, Burnham, Barrow would have gone to Mar-a-Lago in that particular manner in that particular context?” he said, referring to some of the region’s former leaders.
“Absolutely not! But, the leaders who have gone, who went there, I take them to be honourable men, I have no reason to think they are not honourable. It’s just that it has the potential to facilitate mischief of those who want to divide the Caribbean, divide CARICOM or divide it further.”
Gonsalves said that the United States and SVG have had good relations.
“But that doesn’t mean that because you have good relations that if a leader calls you to attend something and you consider that that would not be in the interest of CARICOM or that it sets about dividing CARICOM unnecessarily that you would politely say no. Not this.”
The host of the programme, Dwight “Bing” Joseph noted to Gonsalves that he was not called or invited.
“He frowned upon us,” Joseph said.
“Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! If you think that I feel belittled, it says something more about you than me. I will tell you greatly. It will tell me that you have some inferior complex that if the president of the United States don’t invite you to somewhere, you feel peeved.”
Joseph said that everyone knows Trump’s personality.
“It is not Trump. It’s you, Bing. Don’t impose your insecurities on me, I don’t have them.”
Joseph retorted: “Does it say something about your ego?”
“My ego? I don’t have a problem with that.”
Joseph then told the prime minister, “I don’t have a problem with my insecurity.”
Gonsalves said he has seen a similar reaction elsewhere in the region.
“It is the sort of a thing which I see the Trinidadian opposition says the same thing about Prime Minister Rowley and Rowley answered them very forthrightly as I answer you. What is the matter with this crab-in-the-barrel mentality among some Caribbean people that you don’t go and make the critique about who you are supposed to go and make the critique you trying to pull done those who standing up for some principle and for unity in the region?
“… I really want to warn and caution against – to make it appear that because you are opposed to a meeting, it’s sour grapes that you weren’t invited. It is so wrong on so many levels. It’s absurd,” Gonsalves said.