A Grenada casualty: Caribbean unity
St. George's, Grenada
Although the US-led intervention in Grenada has the support of most of the English-speaking Caribbean, two important countries - Trinidad and Guyana - oppose it. That dissension could seriously weaken Caricom, the 13-member economic and political association that unites the English-speaking republics.Skip to next paragraph
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Trinidad and Guyana have traditionally been the two countries in Caricom able to afford the goods of the other member states. Trinidad, because of its oil wealth, has been especially important.
Guyana, on the other hand, has declined in importance since the price of bauxite, its main product, seriously slumped in 1979. But Guyana remains a potentially significant market and one of the largest Caricom countries.
At the Caricom meeting in Trinidad the weekend before the invasion, Trinidad, like Guyana, opposed intervention. Most observers attribute its position to the fact that the government of Prime Minister George Chambers is facing election early next year. In addition to a strong left made up of trade unionists and intellectuals, who are likely to oppose intervention, there is also a large Grenadian community in Trinidad which could not be counted on to support a possible intervention.
The rift between Trinidad and countries in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States supporting the invasion deepened several days after the invasion when Barbados's prime minister, Tom Adams, publicly declared that the OECS countries had already decided to ask for US intervention before the Caricom meeting. This brought forth an angry public denunciation from Mr. Chambers, who asked OECS countries how they could have arrived at such a decision without informing him first.
Mr. Adams responded by revealing that he had called in Trinidad's ambassador to Barbados informing him of the decision. Concluding that the Trinidadian ambassador had neglected to inform his government, Adams asked the ambassador to leave the country within 24 hours. His departure was followed by a statement last weekend by Trinidad's Foreign Minister, Basil Ince, which again denounced the intervention and stated that the serenity of all the countries in the region was now questionable.
The rift is expected to diminish Trinidad's cooperation with Caricom and to increase its reluctance to buy Caricom goods, a reluctance already brought on by the drop in oil prices.
According to several Caribbean sources, Guyana's Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham, feels so strongly against the intervention that he is seriously considering withdrawing Guyana from Caricom altogether. He is forced to take an extreme stand because of the Marxist opposition party on his left, led by Cheddi Jagen, these sources say.
Mr. Burnham also fears that after intervening in Grenada, the US might try to overthrow his own left-wing government.