If Obama & McCain could care less about Caribbean Immigration, Deportees & Offshore Business – How truly effective is their plank on Foreign Policy?

The Caribbean Diaspora has to be activated like the Cuban American lobby and change their psychology of just being Caribbean people and not even bothering to vote at electionsDr Anthony Bryan, leading Caribbean academic

The apathy referred to is now backfiring, if a visiting American political reporter can more or less say that he has no input on Caribbean related topics of deporting criminals, revising immigration status and what happens to offshore treaties/taxation/business then how effective are our brothers and sisters across the waters seeking better conditions for themselves?

If the Caribbean Diaspora was a more vocal entity in US balloteering, then US Foreign Policy would have to include the aforementioned issues as a bone of contention for campaigning as well.

It is all well and good for a potential world leader to visit Berlin, Kandahar or Kirkuk but how effective is that personality dealing with matters which are almost veritably in their own back yard?

Interestingly, it’s only Obama who tackled offshore matters – and it appears he’s not favourable to the current status quo… There is no indication what McCain would or wouldn’t do if pitted against the same topic.

I verified this on Monday night at UWI’s Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination when Executive Editor for The Hotline – John Mercurio, informed a select crowd of Bajans of some of the inside track on US Elections which is due less than 90 days from now. Apart from US Ambassador Mary Ourisman, Barbados’ Foreign Affairs Minister Donville Inniss and UWI’s Dr Gladstone Yearwood also appeared at the talk.

Mercurio has spent over a decade and a half covering US campaigning – creating programme series and regularly appearing on CNN, Fox and C-Span. His beat has concentrated mainly through Maryland, Washington and parts of Virginia – now apart from print and TV, he added cyberspace to his portfolio by handling The Hotline, a source of American Politics as popular as the Huffington Post or Daily Kos.

His preamble was a bit lengthy, I even wondered if it was to minimise questions as I knew most of it from before – much of it appearing to veer from a totally favourable prospect on Barack Obama and paint a good picture of Republicans, yet not overtly praise ex-Vietnam POW, John McCain.

Since I realised that my time for asking Mercurio on matters would be limited, I took the juiciest salvos and combined them in one lob with a comment added… Mercurio kept harping on what experience Obama has, so I reminded him that John F Kennedy was also inexperienced when compared with Nixon yet this is how he managed to win – by encouraging people to favour his youth (JFK remains USA’s youngest Commander-In-Chief, although some claim Theo Roosevelt); then I asked him for McCain’s take on offshore contracts and also Immigration policies as it relates to the Caribbean, plus – would there be any review of repatriating deportees bearing in mind they have lived the USA longer than they were born in the Caribbean? This in view that the training they had to be bad over there creates havoc here as the West Indies face the onslaught of such deportees.

His answer was rather disheartening, in essence – the online editor was stating that since the economy is heading for a recession, that efforts would be redirected from such aspects. In fact, the only area where Mercurio expanded on was Immigration and even then he was rather terse – McCain/Bush Jr/ Ted Kennedy agreed on a revised policy (one which recently drew ire from the Hispanic community).

However, I do respect the fact Mercurio acknowledged ignorance about the other matters which would not only concern Bajan Reporter, but the rest of this region, nevertheless it made me wonder – how is it that the Caribbean Diaspora is so allegedly minuscule to ignore our situations yet we exist enough to try and cull our votes?

Don’t take my word for it; this is what South Florida C’bean News is covering –

Barbershops and beauty salons are places where people gather and discuss the news of the day and the challenges their neighborhood faces. Senator Barack Obama recognizes the importance of these businesses as they are often a traditional site for serious discussion of politics and civic responsibility.

More than 8 million African Americans are not registered to vote nationwide. In the spirit of meeting people where they live, the Barbershop and Beauty Salon initiative is just one of the original ways the Obama campaign is working to increase voter participation this fall.

Another aspect where Caribbean descent can influence is also covered by the same agency

The public is invited to Florida Forums for Change to share their stories and provide valuable recommendations to help shape Senator Obama’s policy agenda. Previous listening sessions in primary states helped Senator Obama craft plans to reform a failing health care system, promote energy independence through alternative energies, and to help revitalize and strengthen rural America.

You can also head over to Everybody’s Magazine where they discuss how there are hundreds of thousands of potential legal voters, including those of Caribbean descent, yet an organiser with a Bajan-sounding name is satisfied if she can net some tens of thousands to cast their choice in November –

Daria Skeete has been doing her own thing to boost the NYC numbers in November. With 2.4 million unregistered voters in New York she is aiming to register at least 17,167 new voters to mark the 47th birthday anniversary of Sen. Barack Obama. The number signifies the number of days since the Aug. 4, 1961 birth of the Illinois champion of Change.

Ironically, while our WI overseas family think more can be done to better their status especially as it concerns Immigration, there are still natural-US citizens from the Afro-American community who feel Caribbean descended folks get better treatment (Is this because we try harder, or when you have what is known asThird Party Credibility?) –

A study by the Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey and his collaborators shows that black immigrants and their children are overrepresented by several hundred percent among the black freshmen at Ivy League colleges. Such statistics are common at many other institutions, including Queens College of the City University of New York, a public university whose campus is located near a large population of African-Americans. Many studies tell us that black immigrants and their children do better educationally and economically than do the descendants of American slavery and Jim Crow.

There were other issues tackled at the lecture – such as how US media can attack the wrong topics which in reality are insignificant, this is a viewpoint I can understand when I was shocked to watch how CNN was harping on McCain getting a mole removed the other day, but here’s Mercurio’s direct response to the original accusation over the American Press mountainising anthills –

In addition, the Hotline editor recognises the importance of blogs and sees the Democrats as more savvy with that technology especially as it relates to fund-raising and in his view, the GOP need to get updated on this tool, and fast, if they’re to stand a decent chance in November.

I did have other questions I wanted to ask Mercurio, but we ran out of time – so I emailed him and I hope to get a response, these were my other concerns –

  1. Have you seen on youtube, “The Real McCain” Pt’s 1 & 2 – it shows a very self-conflicting dude, the fact he’s 74 comes to mind…
  2. What is the position with Katharine Ross, Scty Of State in FLA? Is she still in office and remains the only such post thruout USA? She was a critical factor in the Gore/Bush fiasco of 2000… (Curious – who do you feel really won back then?)
  3. Is the crisis between Russia, Georgia & Southern Ossetia have any late budding effect on elections in the USA?
  4. Have bloggers made any difference in this election? Significantly? If so, how?
  5. I understand Obama has tighter security than any incumbent member of 1600 Penn Ave – is that true and if he is victorious, will that security INCREASE? South African author Doris Lessing (white and anti-apartheid) and black rapper 50 cent both imply Obama would barely make it past 6 months, but even before Obama ran – comedian Chris Rock suggested a similar scenario in the film “Head Of State” which looks at a black President… What is your take and/or the general consensus?
  6. Finally – as journalists, officially you’re neutral – but bloggers may have allegiances… Is it my misconception, or do you favor a Conservative/Right-ish viewpoint?

Based on my last question, you may wonder where I stand? I favour Democrats but will support where my interests are reflected adequately…

One Response

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  1. i hope you get some answers to those questions.

    regarding the caribbean lobby, there is none. the caribbean community as a cohesive community in my opinion does not exist in north america even at carnival/caribana/labor day time.

    plus if you look at it the Cuban lobby has the financial wherewithal to be strong. i dont think we do.


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