By Arley Gill
Wednesday, 6th of January of 2021, will never be forgotten. We will always remember, the day the world stopped and watched Donald Trump’s supporters descend on Washington, D.C., and subsequently disrupted a Congressional hearing where lawmakers were scheduled to certify President-Elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America.
The U.S—the so-called “defender of democracy’’—had its own reckoning that leads me to ask: How will the world respond to the United States when its leaders refuse to accept the results of a free and fair election? Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, brings the issue closer to home when he raises a similarly relevant and important question:
“Similar scenes in Venezuela resulted in sanctions by foreign nations. Is it that those same people will resort to sanctions against this country (US), since the losers of elections decide to defy 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?’’
What is happening in the United States these days—with the incumbent President Donald Trump refusing to accept defeat—may come as a surprise to many people. But, I am not surprised!
I did not predict that Donald Trump would refuse to concede to President-Elect, Joe Biden—it is sometimes impossible to predict what President Trump will do next. However, I do understand the nature of American society and its governance structure.
Years ago, as a secondary school student, I came to the conclusion that democracy is defined by America based on its interest at the point-in-time. This belief was later reinforced at Omowale Franklin’s feet at what was known then as, National College in Grenada. Democracy—when it benefits the United States—the U.S. will support a dictator; and, when it is in America’s geopolitical, economic, or military interest, the U.S. will remove a duly elected leader. The Monroe Doctrine—a U.S. policy that began in 1823—perfectly outlines that philosophy and practice.
Dig deeper into the Venezuela situation—the United States, currently led by a president who does not spend time reading his briefs—implemented a policy aimed at destroying a sovereign nation and creating a refugee crisis in our region; it’s a refugee crisis that we have not seen in our region in our lifetime.
It was mindboggling to watch, and subsequently fully understand, how the United States unilaterally chooses a person—an individual that was not democratically elected and based solely on U.S interest, install and recognize that individual as the president of Venezuela, a sovereign nation—a nation with a duly elected president already in office.
The European Union also supported and joined President Trump in recognizing Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela. However, the EU later issued a statement rescinding. Venezuelans once again exercised their democratic right and elected their own president into office.
So, today, Venezuela has two “Presidents.” A president that was installed, recognized, and supported by the United States and, interestingly, some countries in the Caribbean; and, a real president that’s recognized by the United Nations and a group of principled democracies. What happened in Venezuela is partly why I am not surprised at what is currently taking place in the United States.
In addition, we have more evidence of this shifting definition of democracy right here in our Western Hemisphere. Just a few years ago, the United States played a critical and crucial role in removing former Bolivian President, Eva Morales, from office.
The American government doubted the credibility of the Bolivian election, using their stooges in the Organization of American States and other regional and international agencies to make claims—asserting that the 2019 election was not conducted freely and fairly in Bolivia.
The assertion was made despite the fact that the Center for Policy and Economic Research, an agency that is based in the United States, along with several other reputable institutions in the US—saying publicly that the election was indeed conducted free and fair and that Evo Morales was the duly elected leader of Bolivia. However, the United States orchestrated and supported the forced resignation and exiling of the former Bolivian president. The Bolivia election result in 2020 is vindication to the electoral process in Bolivia and the Bolivian people.
Whatever your thoughts are about Donald Trump—we must remember that more than seventy (70) million Americans voted for him. To me, this speaks to the character of the American society. Despite the racism, the lies, and just the utter madness at times— there is a significant number of Americans who would like to have Trump as their leader.
For whatever reason: low literacy, institutional racism, nativism, xenophobia—whatever it is—we must recognize that Donald J. Trump is not an anomaly. Trump represents what millions of Americans stand for in America.
I cheekily remarked to some of my colleagues: Grenada stands ready to invade America to bring peace and stability; or, should CARICOM impose sanctions? The irony of it all is so laughable.
But, we might have to pinch ourselves and realize that this is the current political reality in the United States of America—the home of the free and land of the brave.
Editor’s note: Arley Gill is a former Government Minister of Grenada, Former Magistrate in Dominica, and also Grenada’s Ambassador to CARICOM. He has been part of several CARICOM Elections Observer Missions (St. Kitts, Suriname, Belize, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines in 2020)