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Guatemala has withdrawn from the scheme, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have reportedly securitised past Petrocaribe debts owed to Venezuela via Goldman Sachs, while Cuba —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.