Opposition MP Rodney Charles

Gail Alexander

While Caricom has sympathised with the United States after Wednesday’s uprising in Washington by pro-Trump supporters, Caricom chairman Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has been criticised by the Opposition for “rubbing salt in the US’ wounds” with a statement Rowley made on the issue.

UNC MP Rodney Charles called out Rowley yesterday on the statement.

Rowley had commented following Wednesday’s riot in Washington DC where thousands of pro-Trump supporters, incited by outgoing President Donald Trump, marched on the capital. Armed mobs stormed Capitol Hill and the Capitol Building. Four people were killed and injuries were reported.

Yesterday, with arrests ongoing, and Twitter and Facebook locking down Trump’s social media accounts, there were reports of moves to use the US’ 25th Amendment to remove Trump since he still has 13 days of office, or impeach him. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as President on January 20.

Caricom, which Rowley now chairs, expressed its concern on the uprising via statement: “The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply saddened and concerned at the unprecedented scenes that unfolded at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, USA, during the certification of the votes of the presidential elections by the US Congress.

“The storming of the US Congress was a gross affront to democracy and the rule of law in a country which has been viewed as a leading light of representative governance the world over. CARICOM looks forward to the restoration of order and the continuation of the process of transfer of power in a peaceful manner.”

However, on Wednesday Rowley had reportedly said similar scenes in Venezuela resulted in sanctions by foreign nations against those who claimed victory. Rowley also reportedly asked, “Is it that those same people will now resort to sanctions against this (USA) since the losers of elections decide to defy the authorities and call people into the street to put into office a person who feels he is entitled to the office and is being denied by fraud?”

But Charles said, “Yesterday the world witnessed with consternation the unfortunate events which unfolded in Washington, arguably the seat of world democracy. World leaders both friend and foe expressed their concern, while at the same time underscoring their hope that the situation would soon be brought under control and that democracy would continue to flourish.”

He noted statements by Spain’s Prime Minister and that Barbadian Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, “appears to have chosen silence, at least for the time being.”

But Charles added, “But Not PM Rowley…”

Charles said Rowley displayed “A most combative, undiplomatic, in-your-face, and entirely uncalled- for-mood.”

Charles added, “Why rub salt in the wounds of the US at a time when they were experiencing monumental difficulties? Was it your high point of diplomacy? Did you have to be so imprudent?”

“The US is not only our largest trading partner, the home to hundreds of thousands of our citizens including some of your very own children, but also a country to which many look up to as the seat of democracy. If the US sneezes the world catches a cold.”

“Sometimes Dr. Rowley, silence is golden. When you cannot assist or console a supposed ally, diplomacy requires that if you have nothing positive to say, then just shut up.”