Religious leaders in the Caribbean have been speaking out against the European Union (EU) saying it is imposing non-regional values and ideologies through an economic partnership agreement that would govern trade and aid arrangements between Europe and its former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP) for the next 20
The Samoa Agreement was signed on November 15, 2023, and it covers subjects such as sustainable development and growth, human rights and peace and security as well as human and social inclusive development, sustainable economic growth and development, environmental sustainability, and climate change migration and mobility issues.
The agreement was somehow overshadowed by the fact that of the 79 ACP countries, only 44 went to Samoa ready to sign it. Some Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica and Trinidad, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, The Bahamas, Grenada, and Dominica have delayed signing with some saying there is not enough information on it.
They were praised by Roman Catholic Archbishop of Trinidad and Tobago, Jason Gordon. “They came out up front, publicly, and said we are not for sale,” he said in a recent homily.
However, he said he was worried about the countries that signed the agreement because embedded in them are values that are not of the Caribbean.
“It is the rest of the small islands of the Caribbean that I worry about today, because whoever signs that document will then have to impose laws on their people that are not in keeping with the culture, values of us Caribbean people and it will be a colonial imposition one more time on small fragile states, on Africa, Pacific and us here in the Caribbean”, he said.
He added, “They will have to impose abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education, a whole range of values will be imposed because of the signing of that document. (The) EU is imposing upon us an ideology that is not ours and a value system that is not ours. And if we don’t understand and wake up and smell the coffee quickly we will find ourselves with values, with laws, with expectations, and with things being touted as right that has nothing to do with us Caribbean people.”
Gordon’s sentiment was echoed by Archbishop of Castries and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Roseau, Gabriel Malzaire, who said there are many things happening in the world today that are “snatching the faithful.”
“You may have heard of the gathering in Samoa that was to take place on the 15 of this month where the members of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states, along with the European Union were to sign an agreement, an agreement on certain issues, social issues that impinge upon the world or the people of these nations,” he stated.
“They were presented with this document which they were to sign but fortunately many states refrain from signing.”
Malzaire said he wanted to commend the Caribbean countries who did not sign the agreement.
“So I really want to commend our Caribbean people for that,” he stated.
“Now, what is the content of this agreement? It deals with issues that are current today, that are in the air, that we are being asked to take decisions on them. The question for us as Christians is how are those decisions going to affect what we believe is true. So, there were issues like abortion, rights of the LGBTQ, then we had the transgender issues and comprehensive sex education in schools and everywhere. The position that the governments held, those that didn’t sign, is that they needed more clarification on the various aspects on what they were asked to agree on. And these are very, very important issues that we need to look at – how they impinge on what we believe to be true, what we believe be biblical, what we believe to be what God is asking of us.”
Meanwhile Jamaica, which has been under tremendous pressure from at least 15 civil society groups over the agreement, was the first Caribbean country to publicly air its objection to it. Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith said further consultations with these groups will be needed to ensure no local laws are breached.
“Throughout the negotiations which concluded in 2021, the government had taken on board the views of the various stakeholders including members of civil society,” she said.
“After what was in fact three years of challenging negotiations, the government was satisfied that the language of the text in the final agreement would not supersede Jamaica’s domestic legislation. Notwithstanding, the government has taken note of concerns which continue to be raised by stakeholders in the domestic space, so we will continue consultations with the aim of providing assurances regarding the government’s unfailing intent to always protect the interest of Jamaica and Jamaicans with the laws of Jamaica as our guide.”
However, EU and ACP officials, who worked on the agreement, have been saying that there are no references in the agreement to any of the issues being raised and activists are reading way too much into the various clauses without justification.