Beware of Pompeo

To the Editor, Sir/Madam:

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is arriving in Jamaica today. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, also visited Jamaica briefly in 2018. Just as we denounced Tillerson’s visit in 2018, we are denouncing Pompeo’s visit now, and for the same reason; the US is trying to divide the region and pit our leaders against each other.

Rex Tillerson had an obsession with Venezuela because of his career history in ExxonMobil, a company which felt entitled to take oil from Venezuela to make huge profits while paying little to nothing to benefit the country. Multiple oil companies had been operating in Venezuela, and ExxonMobil was the only company which refused to pay increased taxes on the oil they extracted in Venezuela; the government reacted by nationalising ExxonMobil’s assets, while other oil companies continued to operate and comply with the increased taxes. Rex Tillerson was the CEO of ExxonMobil, and later became the Secretary of State, which is the equivalent of a Foreign Affairs Minister. He relentlessly pursued a hostile foreign policy towards Venezuela.

Mike Pompeo is the former director of the CIA; he admitted that he and his colleagues lied, stole, and cheated as a part of their work. The CIA is a wicked organisation which has intentionally destabilised other countries’ governments, and has done other things which have resulted in violence against civilians in many forms. Now, being the Secretary of State, he seems to have an obsession with both Cuba and Venezuela. They brag about being able to punish entire countries, including causing over 50% inflation in Iran due to sanctions similar to the ones imposed on Venezuela. He also brags about sanctions against Cuba, and fully enforcing the blockade against Cuba which previous administrations enforced only partially.

Right now, the US is spreading the absurd myth that the government of Venezuela is a puppet regime of Cuba which is stealing Venezuela’s resources to benefit Cuba. With this myth, it is justifying sanctions against Cuba to add to the effects of the infamous blockade that we have called “the embargo” for decades. Just a few days ago, Pompeo was praising Luis Almagro, the head of the OAS, for promoting intervention in Latin American countries that don’t bow down to the US.

Almagro was the Foreign Minister of Uruguay under the presidency of Jose Mujica, who was called the “poorest president in the world”. After initially endorsing him to become the head of the OAS, Mujica condemned Almagro when he saw his true colours. Since becoming leader of the OAS, Almagro has been at odds with CARICOM and multiple governments in the region for his promotion of intervention in Venezuela and Bolivia, while defending the emerging dictatorships in Ecuador and Chile. Almagro also promoted intervention in Dominica’s recent elections. Cuba is no longer a member of the OAS, and many Latin Americans consider the OAS to be the “US’ Ministry of Colonies” – mocking it and Almagro for promoting the interests of the US in the region.

The current government of Jamaica claims to be in solidarity with Cuba against the blockade and sanctions, so we find it contradictory that they are uncritically welcoming someone like Pompeo while his hostile and divisive agenda is obvious. In an interview at the Texas A&M University, he identified “the Cubans” as one of the US’ “adversaries” alongside al-Qaida and ISIS. His measures against Venezuela have hurt Cuba, causing severe fuel shortages by interrupting legitimate trade deals.

This meeting in Jamaica will be a follow-up of the meeting that Trump invited Andrew Holness to, last year. Trump met with only a handful of leaders of the Caribbean at his private resort in Florida, but Holness called it the “Caribbean Leaders Summit” which attracted major criticism from the governments of multiple CARICOM countries. Likewise, this visit by Pompeo will include meetings with the leaders of select Caribbean countries. Keith Rowley denounced the meeting last year as an event to support regime change, and Mia Mottley is denouncing this event now, saying that it is dividing CARICOM.

In the past, Jamaica was known for its principled foreign policy. Now, we seem to do anything for handshakes and smiles with questionable characters who will turn their backs on us at any moment, having no loyalty to our nation’s true friends who have continued to seek good relations with us despite our government’s betrayal of them.

Christophe Simpson

Jamaica LANDS