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Trouble in Paradise?
Caribbean Fever

Is the Caribbean slowly, quietly, but surely becoming a global trouble spot? Chikungunya, an extremely painful mosquito-borne virus, has been plaguing the area for a year now. The thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations is likely to deprive a lot of island nations of essential tourist revenue as Yanquis head for Havana instead. And now the oil crash is threatening Venezuela’s ability to provide subsidized oil through its Petrocaribe program. The islands are beginning to notice, according to the Financial Times:

The International Monetary Fund last year recommended that Venezuela, given its “external liquidity constraints, including a continued fall in international reserves, could choose to reduce or eliminate these schemes”. Some Petrocaribe countries have made contingency plans and analysts have recommended they switch to cheap US shale gas instead.

Guatemala has withdrawn from the scheme, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have reportedly securitised past Petrocaribe debts owed to Venezuela via Goldman Sachs, while Cuba — Venezuela’s closest ally — has begun talks to re-establish US diplomatic relations.

The Caribbean isn’t about to descend into West African-style chaos, but troublesome signs are starting to pop up. Keep an eye on this seemingly quiet region in 2015.

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  • Kevin

    How much will the drop in the price of oil make up for the loss of Petrocaribe subsidies?

  • Fat_Man

    One of the real scandals of foreign policy thinking in the United States for the past generation has been that it has focused on the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. It is a remnant of the Cold War and our strategy of containment.

    What happens in the Caribbean is of far more consequence to the lives of Americans than the other areas of the world. Open up Google Earth. It shows a view of the globe from the vantage point of 7000 miles above the center of the United States. You can see only a sliver of western Europe, a corner of North East Asia, and the entire Caribbean. The Middle East is not visible.

    If life is too hard in the countries around the Caribbean, refugees will stream to the United States.

    The first object of our foreign policy should be the health and welfare of the countries surrounding the Caribbean. We must ensure that Mexico attains a first world standard of living. We must remove the Castro brothers from Cuba, and the Chavistas from Venezuala. We must ensure that all of these countries have stable, democratic forms of Government, and that all of them grant civil liberties (including economic rights0 to all of their citizens. We must institute free trade and dismantle protectionism for things like sugar. We must end the war on drugs.

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