What the Victory of Biden means for the Caribbean
United States Presidential election results are not yet official but the Democratic candidate Joe Biden has attained a considerable lead making him the President-elect of the country. This presidential election has been historic in many ways as millions of voters voted through mail-in ballots due to the global pandemic. Republican nominee Donald Trump is still reluctant to accept the election results and has announced to go to the Supreme Court on the allegations of election fraud and mishandling of mail-in ballots. Looking at the constitutional and political history of the United States it seems that there is little that Donald Trump can do.
In this article, we will be exploring the impact of the Biden-Harris administration on the Caribbean region and will be shedding light on what the new strategic planning of the United States will mean for the Caribbean.
Impact of the US-Presidential election on the World and the Caribbean
Due to the important economic and strategic position of the United States, the result of the Presidential election will affect the whole planet and not just the United States. A new government will mean a new foreign policy and new strategic alliances. Cubans have been watching the Presidential elections as it were their own. Even with a potential hurricane on the doorsteps, Cubans classify the United States Election as the most dominant matter. Caribbean leaders were among the first to congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory. A cartoon went viral in many Caribbean media outlets depicting President Jovenel Moise watching United States election results. Caribbean leaders welcomed the news of Biden-Harris’ victory as it symbolizes new opportunities and alliances in different fields of economy and trade.
There is a frequently used term, “when America sneezes, the Caribbean catches a cold”, this phrase is not just an exaggeration but holds considerable truth. The United States and Caribbean countries share common interests in regards to the economy, politics, trade, and many other fields. The United States is the largest trading partner of many Caribbean nations and is home to a vast Caribbean Diaspora.
Caribbean needs a COVID-19 free America
Many Caribbean regions depend on United States tourists as it plays a pivotal role in their economy. The Trump administration largely failed in handling the pandemic leaving a negative impact on the Caribbean economy. In their victory speech, President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced that the first step of their government would be to launch a COVID taskforce that will help the country to get rid of the pandemic. This has sparked a new wave of hope among many Caribbean leaders, as they cannot afford to shut down their borders to American tourists any longer. If Joe Biden succeeds in getting COVID-19 under control, he will be contributing a lot to the Caribbean economy.
Biden may not support free trade
During Obama’s rule, Joe Biden was the Vice president of the United States and has been actively engaged with the Caribbean government over free trade but this time might be different. The Biden-Harris government will likely be less embracing of free trade with Caribbean countries. He has inherited a broken country with a sinking economy and millions left unemployed. His priority will be to create employment opportunities for Americans and providing relief packages to businesses. Free trade opportunities will make it difficult for America to accommodate its unemployed citizens and provide them with good earning.
However, Biden is a supporter of the World Trade Organization as shown by his record as the Vice-President. Donald Trump delayed the selection of Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization. This is something that Biden is expected to do when he goes to the Oval Office as the President.
An ally against Climate Change
Throughout his campaign, Biden stressed a climate change plan that will make America carbon-free in the coming years. The Caribbean is one of the most affected regions by climate change. Biden as the President of the United States is a new ally of the Caribbean in its fight against Climate Change. America is the second largest of Climate Change. President Trump was reluctant to go with the terms of the Paris Agreement that has affected not only America but also the whole world, especially the Caribbean. In their victory speech, President-elect and Vice President-elect both made it clear that Climate Change will be among their topmost priority. Caribbean nations are also expected to receive funding to help their climate change initiatives and renewable energy projects.
Immigration and Aid
One of the first steps of Trump as President was to launch a war against immigration. This was a shock for Caribbean countries as people there see America as a land of opportunities. Biden is likely to take back bans and curbs imposed on immigration by the Trump administration opening American borders for the ‘Dreamers’. Additionally, the Trump administration introduced cuts in the funding sources of NGOs and organizations working in the Caribbean and other regions of the world. It is likely that under the Biden administration, this policy will be reversed and the NGOs will be able to work in the Caribbean. There is a demand for an increase in funding of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This program has been working in Guyana, Jamaica, and Bahamas for a long time but faced severe challenges under President Trump. The Caribbean region also faces the challenge of drug abuse and will President-elect Biden to provide help in this area.
Redefining relationship with Cuba and Venezuela
President Trump had a hard-line approach to Cuba and Venezuela. Cuba is facing an embargo for decades and has been under severe economic pressure because of it. As Vice President Biden loosened the restrictions on the island nations but the relief was taken aback by President Trump. Now with Biden as President Cubans expects that restriction will loosen once again. The real thing to be seen is that will Biden only provides relief to Cuba or will be taking an extra step to end the illegal embargo forever. Moving on, Venezuela has been an ally of the Caribbean for a long time. Biden repeatedly criticized trump for his approach towards the crisis-stricken country. Biden is expected to take a more cooperative approach to Venezuela and help the country to stand back. America’s approach to Venezuela is one of the defining pillars of the US-Caribbean relationship.
America will have a new government in a couple of weeks; this change of administration will not only affect America but will also make a serious impact on its neighboring Caribbean regions. Caribbean leaders are already looking up to President-elect Biden for redefining America’s relationship with Caribbean nations. Biden Presidency comes as good news for the Caribbean as a strong America means a strong and prosperous Caribbean. Caribbean has been facing hard times due to COVID-19 economic restrictions and mounting threats of Climate Change. There are looking towards Biden as a symbol of hope that will help them to get out of these hard times. Biden has been a friend of the Caribbean region when he was Vice President with Obama and is expected to continue the same attitude towards his neighbors when he becomes the President. Additionally, Kamala Harris’s Caribbean background (her father immigrated from British Jamaica, so she might know the Caribbean culture and the Caribbean traditions) is also likely to play a role in establishing good relations between Caribbean nations and the United States. Caribbean leaders will be meeting the President-elect at the Ninth Summit of the Americas that is scheduled to be held in the United States in 2021. There the President-elect will have the opportunity to redefine his relationship with Caribbean nations. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the Caribbean will experience a change of tone from what they have been going through in the past four years. There will be more understanding of the Caribbean people and Caribbean culture. Joe Biden will have a multilateral and cooperative approach towards the Caribbean as it has always been under Democratic rule. There will be more traditional diplomacy and a more stable trade policy.
If you are interested in more articles on Caribbean politics I recommend also from us “Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Caribbean countries“.