Volume No. 2 Issue No. 62 - Monday, December 15, 2008|
Bird Island, OECS and the potential Venezuelan Membership
by Michael Davis Esq.
It was reported on December 10, 2008 that Dominica's Trade Minister Dr. Colin McIntyre has confirmed that Venezuela has applied to become a member of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) but no decision had been taken at a recent regional meeting.
The yellow area shows the Venezuelan Economic space, with the effect of Aves Island/Rock.
However when I began my analysis of how Venezuela becoming a member of the OECS would impact these small island sovereign states, my research indicated that OECS Director General, Dr. Len Ishmael stated that media reports that gave the impression that the inclusion of Venezuela as a member of the OECS grouping is under active consideration at this time is incorrect. The statement however leaves open future consideration.
Should Venezuela become a member of the OECS in the future? How would that affect the nine member – maybe 10 members if Trinidad and Tobago were to join the OECS grouping?
Since February 3, 1999 when President Hugo Chavez Frias came to power, Venezuela has developed strong bilateral relations with individual Member States especially Dominica, under the youthful, dynamic and egoless (as compared to recent former PMs) leadership of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
When compared to previous Venezuelan administrations, Chavez is spending the petro Bolivar (VEB) generously throughout the Caribbean. Thank you. But is that enough for Venezuela to become a member of the OECS?
Maybe not! Why? Venezuela’s EEZ/continental shelf claim of up to 200 miles north of Bird Island of the Caribbean Sea. Known by some as Aves rock – Bird Island is located 90 miles off Dominica’s north western coast and 350 miles north of the Venezuelan coast.
The origins of this vexing question go back to colonialism & imperialism.
In 1857 there was a Convention to submit the question of the dominion and sovereignty of Bird / Aves Island to the arbitration of a friendly power. Although Queen Isabella II of Spain had a conflict of interest – due to the fact that her country considered Venezuela part of its sphere of influence even if Venezuela became independent from Spain on July 5 1811, the child Queen was chosen.
Under today’s standards Spain would not have been a contender to be a fair arbitrator in this case. Thus the petulant Queen Isabella II in a vaguely reasoned decision, arbitrated the dispute of Aves rock i.e. Bird Island.
The imperialist Queen awarded Bird Island to her former colony – then an imperial arm of the colonial power. The US, France, and the Netherlands today recognize Venezuela's granting full effect to Aves Island.
In 1982, an expansionist Venezuela, under right wing leadership, voted against and did not sign the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention while many of the social democratic OECS countries are current members.
Bird Island effectively moves the Venezuelan coast 350 miles north from its South American sea shore, thereby the Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf claim of control extending over a large domineering portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; According to the United Nations, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – all member countries of OECS – protest Venezuela's full effect of the EEZ claim.
If Venezuela became a full member of the OECS – with a single economic and soon a single political space – would it not lead to the country with dominant economic power taking over the political space? Neo-colonialism? Imperialism? Venezuela as Colonial Master?
If the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela really desires to join the OECS – the leaders of the OECS should consider the request with at least the following conditions in order to prevent any future domination by Venezuela under a different (after all Chavez will retire someday) leader; and, Brother Chavez, the great anti-colonial, anti imperialist and revolutionary President he is – should grant these request to his brothers in solidarity with the OECS.
Give up the sovereignty of Bird Island to Dominica with the condition that Bird Island would be administered by the OECS authority for the benefit of all members (including newest member Venezuela), and thus drop Venezuela’s imperialist EEZ/continental shelf claim to the common Caribbean Sea so its
resources maybe more equitably distributed among all the Caribbean nations.
The Caribbean dollar remains the currency for all members with the Central Bank to remain in St. Kitts. The common OECS passport should not give voting rights in member countries where the OECS citizen was not born unless naturalized in the country.
OECS headquarters to remain in St. Lucia. The OECS court to remain in Grenada. Maybe a new Development Bank could be headquartered in Caracas. The first condition of giving up sovereignty to Aves Island, reminds me that on the recent anniversary of the Falklands War of a speech made by brother President Hugo Chavez Frias.
The speech called on Britain to give up sovereignty to the Falkland Islands to Argentina, end British colonialism and give up imperialism. Act what you say Brother Chavez. OECS citizens will welcome you with open arms.
Domination of OECS by Venezuela would not be an issue.
You would lead by example, and, not just words. Thank you.
Related - Aves Island a strategic one
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