By Peter Richards
CMC Caribbean Correspondent
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, November 9, 2016 (CMC) – Caribbean politicians and academics, today, reacted to the election of billionaire, Donald J. Trump, as the 45th President of the United States, expressing hope for continued good relations with Washington, even as they acknowledged that the region should be prepared for an influx of nationals returning home.
Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, warned the Caribbean to be prepared for returning nationals and other migrants from North America.
Sir Hilary said that Trump’s philosophies and policies could lead to a demographic change in the Caribbean over time.
Speaking on a post-US presidential analysis on the implications for the Caribbean at the Mona campus of the UWI, the Barbados-born academic said “you will also witness, I am sure, a migration of Hispanics out of North America”.
“You will witness the return of many Caribbean citizens out of North America and we have to prepare ourselves for return migration. Understand that these are going to be the forces that will be unleashed,” he said, telling the symposium “this is not the first time this has happened.”
He said there was a similar situation when Margaret Thatcher won the elections in Great Britain and became prime minister in 1979, saying she came to power “with very similar philosophical constructs and that was the beginning of the net migration of Caribbean peoples out of Britain”.
Sir Hilary said Trump’s victory will also have an effect on the global recession, predicting it will “have an adverse impact on the global economy.
“My expectation, as an economic historian, is that we are going to see the deepening of the world recession, because three quarters of humanity will assume that the United States no longer possess a moral authority to direct the world economy.”
“World trade has always been driven by certain kinds of multi-lateral and bi-lateral ideologies and philosophies. Their assertion of these value systems in the current space will have an adverse impact on global trade. I think, in the Caribbean we have to prepare for that,” Sir Hilary noted.
“We have to prepare for the consequences of a return to diminished levels of international trade as a result of this construct,” he added.
In a stunning upset, Trump defied the odds and defeated the Democrat, Hillary Clinton, who was seeking to become the first woman to be elected President in the United States.
Trump, who led a controversial campaign, in which he spoke about building a wall to prevent illegal migration, deport Muslims and vowed to “Make America strong again”, has since said, in his acceptance speech early this morning, he would be President for the whole of the United States. He will be sworn into office on January 20, next year.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, in extending congratulations to the 70-year-old President-elect, said that Jamaica has always welcomed “the longstanding friendship and cooperation, which has shaped our bilateral relationship with the United States for more than 50 years”.
Holness, who won the general elections in his country in February, spoke of a shared commitment to achieving and maintaining economic growth and development for the benefit of the peoples of both countries and for the peoples of the hemisphere.
He also called for exploring new opportunities, as well as the desire to strengthen US-Caribbean and Jamaican relations.
Guyana President, David Granger, told reporters he was looking forward to working with the new US administration.
Granger said the US elections were conducted in a transparent manner and it is now an issue for the American people, and Guyana will respect the democratic choice of the American people.
“This is a matter for the American people. America is a democratic country and the elections were conducted in a transparent manner. I think there is no country in the world that is not aware of what was happening over the last six months, so even if some Guyanese had to vote, they were fully aware of the program of the two major candidates,” President Granger said, noting that the United States plays a key role in hemispheric security in this part of the world and, over the years, the US government has provided billions of dollars to Guyana and other Caribbean governments in the area of security.
Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, said he wanted to congratulate the people of the United States “for their robust participation in a democratic process that has been the beacon of the world for many years”.
“It is indeed noteworthy, that there was a record engagement of the people of the United States, and that Mr. Donald J Trump has earned a sweeping mandate,” he said, adding that St. George’s was looking “forward to continued strong relations with Washington” under the new administration.
“We understand that Mr. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at a time when the challenges for his nation, and indeed the wider world, are indeed real and complex. We expect the continued engagement of the United States in matters of mutual interest to Grenada and the Caribbean, especially in areas of trade, security, immigration and climate change.
“Grenada looks forward to continuing the Caribbean and Latin American dialogue with the United States, that involves the deepening of engagements with nations of the region and the continued respect for sovereignty of states, large and small,” Mitchell said, hoping for “a positive continuation of the leadership of the United States among the community of nations under the new President”.
His St. Kitts-Nevis counterpart, Dr. Timothy Harris, said he was looking forward to building upon the longstanding relationship between the two countries.
In a congratulatory message sent to the President-elect, Harris said that Trump had attained a “decisive electoral victory…particularly during a presidential race that saw record voter turnout, rally crowds and debate viewership throughout the campaign cycle”.
He said it was also noteworthy that Trump has had no “political or military experience, but rather strong business and negotiating skills that have been honed from a background in multinational real estate development and licensing, as well as television production”.
“My government and I are looking forward to seeing you govern as the 45th President of the United States of America, as you work to execute your mandate of bringing jobs and prosperity to your country and protecting its interests around the world. Your stirring message of change has energized and electrified the American electorate and changed the political playbook,” he added.
Jamaica’s Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson Miller, urged Trump to “quickly reach across the political divide in the US and try to build bridges in the global space so that we can continue to foster peace and development around the world”.
In her congratulatory message, Simpson Miller, who lead the People’ National Party (PNP) into defeat in the February general election in her country, extended “sincere congratulations” to Trump saying “he joins a select group of men who have attained the distinction of becoming Leader of the Free World.
“This job carries with it an awesome responsibility, as the President of the United States has a major influence on global affairs,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda opposition legislator, Joanne Messiah, said women has always had to fight more to achieve political power and praised Clinton for her achievement.
“I don’t think it could be disputed that women, who are in positions of leadership and politics, that the bar is always high up for women. We are not judged by the same rule and we saw it in the case of Hillary Clinton; it was very glaring,” she said on a radio program in Antigua.
“The majority of white men voted for Donald Trump,” she added.
Jean Henry Céant, who is one of the candidates contesting the presidential elections in Haiti on November 20, extended “congratulations to the new President of the United States Donald J. Trump and to the American people”.