Continuing with the Obama Administration's interest in renewing attention and positive relations in the backyard of the U.S. with evidence from his trip to Trinidad and Tobago for the 2009 Summit of the Americas meeting, Secretary Clinton made a trip to the Caribbean and Latin America over 6 to 10 June. I am thrilled she stopped in Barbados.
I see her visit to the area as extremely positive for the region. She announced commitments from the U.S. for support of such areas as: More assistance to Haiti, energy security and climate change cooperation, health cooperation concerning HIV and AIDS, trade relations, and continued and on-going dialogue among other concerns. There was a commitment to $300 million in U.S. (Barbados dollars are 2 to 1 with U.S. dollars) aid to the Caribbean with about $8 million going towards climate change and energy projects.
And showing off her humorous side, Secretary Clinton has this to say to assembled U.S. Embassy staff and their family members in Bridgetown:
I hope that you all know how much President Obama and I appreciate your long hours, your commitment. Although frankly, serving in Barbados, I mean – (laughter) – I don’t know. I’m not going to hear too many complaints from anybody here. But I do think that it’s important to underscore how everything we’re trying to do to reengage with and deepen and broaden our relationships with our friends in the Caribbean depends on you.
I hear you, Ms. Clinton, it's tough "serving" here in paradise, but Barbados, with its strong infrastructure, solid government, and hard-working, committed people is the perfect place to model success for the rest of the world and, in particular, the Caribbean. U.S. support and attention is a positive thing in a region that has been overlooked for too long. As she stated at the press conference, "We have had a long relationship between the United States and the Caribbean, but there was a sense that the United States was absent from the region. So we are back. We are back 100 per cent. We are back and committed."
The photo of above of Secretary Clinton is from the Barbados NationNews on-line version of the newspaper.