[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book II)]
[August 30, 1993]
[Pages 1407-1412]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With Caribbean Leaders
August 30, 1993

    President Clinton. Good afternoon. Today I had the great honor of 
welcoming five outstanding leaders from the English-speaking Caribbean 
to the White House: President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, Prime Minister 
Erskine Sandiford of Barbados, Prime Minister Patrick Manning of 
Trinidad and Tobago--Tobago, excuse me; I'm still hoarse from our 
luncheon--Prime Minister P.J. Patterson of Jamaica, and Prime Minister 
Hubert Ingraham of the Bahamas. I'm impressed by the intelligence, the 
dynamism, and the dedication of the Caribbean leadership.
    The end of the cold war has altered the nature but not the depth of 
our interest in the Caribbean. Our concern for the region is firmly 
rooted in geographic proximity, the resultant flows of people, of 
commodities and culture, and in our shared interest in fighting drug 
trafficking and projecting our economic interests and in protecting 
fragile ecosystems.
    As with U.S.-Mexican relations, U.S.-Caribbean relations 
dramatically demonstrate the absolute inseparability of foreign and 
domestic issues. More than ever before, our Nation is a Caribbean 
nation. In our discussions, we recognize the concerns that NAFTA may 
adversely affect the Caribbean and Central American nations by diverting 
trade and investment flows to Mexico. Therefore, I want to announce 
today that I have asked Ambassador Mickey Kantor to study the impact of 
NAFTA on these small economies and to consult with them on new measures 
to increase regional trade.
    American workers have a direct interest in the prosperity of the 
English-speaking Caribbean. The $2 billion in United States exports to 
those countries creates at least 40,000 American jobs. Our warm and 
productive luncheon meeting covered many other areas as well. These 
nations are all vibrant democracies striving to adapt their economies to 
new global realities while maintaining a full respect for individual 
freedoms and human rights.
    In the Organization of American States and in the United Nations, 
they consistently take strong stands in favor of the collective defense 
of democracy. They have all been firm supporters of multilateral efforts 
to restore President Aristide in Haiti. And we discussed cooperative 
security and economic measures to assist Haitian democracies. I thank 
them for their support of the restoration of President Aristide and, of 
course, we all enjoyed a recounting of President Aristide's swearing-in 
of his new Prime Minister today.
    The Caribbean community will be an important building block of a 
hemispheric community of democracies linked by growing economic ties and 
common political beliefs. That will happen, I believe, in no small 
measure because of the leadership of the five people who are here with 
us today. And I'd like now to ask them each in turn to come to the 
microphone and say a few remarks.
    And I think President Jagan is going first. He was here first in 
1961. Is that right? The microphone is yours, sir.
    President Jagan. Thank you, Mr. President. As you just pointed out, 
I was here in 1961. Those were difficult, different times. I'm happy to 
be here now with my colleagues jointly at this invitation of the 
President and to say that we definitely have problems, you in the United 
States and we in the Caribbean. Your problems are big; ours are 
critical. And I think it will be necessary for us to work closely 

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to solve these problems because at one time Caribbean was described as a 
third border of United States, and some have said it's the Achilles' 
heel. And I believe 10 years ago, the Caribbean was described as one of 
the world circles of crisis.
    We have deteriorated somewhat; our economies are in trouble. But 
nevertheless we are optimistic that if we work together with the United 
States in a feeling, in a spirit of genuine partnership and 
interdependence, we can together resolve these problems. We have to, 
because increasingly we see developments taking place around the world 
in megablocs, and we in this hemisphere have to chart out our own 
destiny and work together in order to alleviate the problems of our 
people--they are many--and to bring about economic progress and human 
    Thank you.
    Prime Minister Sandiford. We in Barbados and the rest of the 
Caribbean believe that we in this region have great opportunities to 
deal with the problems facing our region. We see these problems as 
relating to the achievement of greater levels of growth, providing more 
jobs for our people, keeping inflation low, and also dealing with the 
issues of competitiveness and productivity in our economies. Within this 
framework we believe that the United States, the Caribbean, and all 
other countries of our region have an opportunity to work through a new 
conceptualization of our region based on what I am calling a twin 
continent concept, involving the countries of North America, the 
countries of South America, linked on the one side by the countries of 
Central America and on the other side by that string of lovely tropical 
islands called the Caribbean, of which Barbados, forgive me, is the most 
beautiful. And then there are all the countries that are in between. 
    The opportunity of discussing with the President and his high-level 
delegation the issues involved and how we can do this, I think, is a 
most welcome one. And we believe that we can do it on a sustainable 
basis, sustainable in the sense that we have to provide an acceptable 
standard of living for our people, taking into account that those who 
are disadvantaged or deprived are not left to waste away and taking into 
account also that we have to make provision for our children and our 
children's children so that they, too, can live in an environment that 
can enable them to achieve adequate standards of living. We believe that 
we must now sit down and work as partners in order to achieve these 
objectives. And that is what we have been discussing, and that is what 
we will be working for.
    Prime Minister Manning. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. 
We were very pleased today to have a chance to talk with the U.S. 
President and a team of his closest advisers. The CARICOM countries are 
situated on the doorstep of the United States of America. And it would 
be a great error to conclude that now that communism has come virtually 
to an end, that the CARICOM countries and the Caribbean territories on 
the whole are no longer of significance to the United States of America. 
That would be a great mistake, indeed.
    All of these countries are going through a structural adjustment, 
and in that context, we are all experiencing relatively high--relative 
on absolute terms--high levels of unemployment. It will be a great 
tragedy if in seeking to pursue sustainable development for our 
countries, it takes place at such a rate that the domestic populations 
begin to see as one of the options available to them a greater 
involvement in drug and drug-related activities. That's an option, 
ladies and gentlemen, that we are trying our best to avoid already. 
There's a drug problem in the Caribbean, and many of our countries have 
been transshipment points for the transfer of cocaine from South America 
to the United States and Canada and to the north.
    And so there is an urgency in the way we deal with development, and 
there's an urgency in the strategies that we pursue, the urgency in 
identifying these strategies and pursuing them as expeditiously as 
possible to ensure that we satisfy the aspirations of our populations.
    That is a point that was discussed at length today. And in 
particular we discussed with the President and his advisers this whole 
question of access to aid in the transition period, as our economies go 
from one state to the next, and in particular the use of per capita 
income as an indicator, a trigger indicator, an indicator for accessing 
concessional rates of funding and of assistance. Really, the populations 
of countries don't see per capita income. What they see is the change in 
per capita income. So no matter where you are, as long as there's a 
significant change downwards in the per capita income of any country, 
then it results in social problems

[[Page 1409]]

in that particular country. And that is a point of view that we 
advocated today as perhaps an alternative for mechanisms for giving aid 
to countries and for allowing countries to access concessional funding. 
I think that the point was taken. And our discussions were in fact very 
pleasant and, I believe, very fruitful.
    Thank you.
    Prime Minister Patterson. When I heard the Prime Minister of 
Barbados asserting the claims of his country, I thought of making a 
simple rejoinder and then reflected that it ran the risk of being 
misunderstood here. I had intended to say, good wine needs no bush. 
    May I, Mr. President, thank you on behalf of the Government and 
people of Jamaica, and indeed on behalf of all the governments and 
people of the CARICOM member countries, for having invited us to 
participate in a timely discussion with you as your administration seeks 
to chart a relevant Caribbean policy in the context of the developments 
in the world and the hemisphere to which we belong.
    I think out of our discussions has emerged a recognition of the need 
to take that further step in forging a closer and more effective working 
partnership. As has been mentioned, the United States, Canada, and 
Mexico are on the verge of completing the signatories for the NAFTA 
agreement. For us in the Caribbean, we note that the whole world is 
moving towards larger and larger trading blocs. And we envisage a time 
when eventually there is going to be a free trade that extends 
throughout the hemisphere to which we belong.
    We in the Caribbean, particularly in CARICOM, have already started 
to prepare for that process. But we recognize that there is going to be 
the need for special transitional arrangements, taking into account 
certain products and exports which are very sensitive to us and certain 
areas of industrial activity that are so important to ensuring that 
employment levels are maintained, indeed, that unemployment is reduced 
so that social stability is maintained in all our respective countries.
    To these objectives, the strengthening of democracy, the enhancement 
of social mobility, and for economic progress in our region, all of us 
are firmly committed. And we are very happy that we are agreed to work 
in a collaborative exercise to make the dreams of all us as proud, 
independent people in this hemisphere a reality in our times.
    Prime Minister Ingraham. Mr. President, colleagues, ladies and 
gentlemen. When I heard the Prime Minister of Barbados and Jamaica--
[laughter]--and I speak for the Bahamas, the undisputed leader in 
tourism in the entire region. [Laughter]
    We are delighted to have the opportunity to be in Washington, DC, at 
the White House and to have been so warmly welcomed by President Clinton 
and his administration. And in my capacity as Chairman of CARICOM and as 
Prime Minister of the Bahamas, let me say thank you very much for the 
opportunity to exchange views, which we found most useful.
    We had the opportunity to talk about the further steps which we may 
take as a group of nations to strengthen democracy in our region and to 
ensure that there is great accountability to our citizens and 
transparency in the governance of our respective countries. We were able 
to share views on Haiti and the progress which is being made in relation 
to the restoration of democracy to that country and to express our 
appreciation to the United States of America for the work which it is 
doing in that regard. We were also able to discuss our desire to do all 
we can to assist in helping to create an atmosphere in this region where 
all countries in the region will be democratic countries in the not too 
distant future, including Cuba.
    We were able to put before the administration of the United States 
the items of highest priority for the Caribbean region, and they are the 
inclusion in NAFTA, provisions to preserve and enhance CBI benefits to 
small CARICOM countries, the convention tax deduction benefits, and 
tourism development, which is most important to countries in the region 
like the Bahamas and elsewhere. We were able to point out the need for 
continual support for agriculture and banana, particularly for the 
countries of St. Vincent, Dominica, and St. Lucia.
    We were also able to focus on the joint cooperation in the antidrug 
effort and to point to the fact that one of the most successful, if not 
the most successful, drug interdiction program which has taken place 
anywhere takes place between the United States of America and in the 
Bahamas where some 26 percent of all cocaine seizures are captured.
    And lastly and finally, we were able to focus upon the need for the 
continuing promotion of democracy in our region.
    We all leave Washington, DC, reinvigorated

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and determined to continue our efforts in this region to work together 
as partners to ensure better quality of life for all of our citizens. We 
are most hopeful of the benefits that will come to our region through 
the administration of President Clinton, and we thank you very much.
    President Clinton. Thank you. Let me also say, before you ask the 
question, if there are people here representing your nations, I want to 
make sure that I give them a chance to ask their questions also, but 
we'll start with Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].


    Q. Mr. President, since you have a better chance of passing NAFTA in 
the Senate, will you push for the Senate consideration first? And did it 
come as a surprise to you that the Caribbean would feel adversely 
affected by NAFTA? I mean, was it news?
    President Clinton. No. Well, let me answer the first question first. 
I haven't made a decision on that yet, and I don't think I should until 
I consult with the supporters of the agreement. It can't pass in either 
House until the legislation is developed, which is now going on to 
embody the agreement. But I'm certainly open to that. I just simply 
haven't had the opportunity to sit down and visit with the supporters 
and see what they want to do. I have no objection to going that way.
    With regard to the Caribbean, it didn't come as a surprise to me. I 
think in general what these leaders said was that they thought it was a 
good idea but that it shouldn't adversely affect existing relationships. 
Our administration has worked hard to have a positive mutually 
beneficial relationship with the CARICOM nations to faithfully carry out 
the laws of Congress, including one that was passed late last year 
designed to stop a previous problem with our efforts there. And I said, 
as I said today, I asked the Ambassador for Trade, Mickey Kantor, to 
look into this and see whether we can provide some assurances that there 
will not be a disadvantage to the Caribbean nations.


    Q. Mr. President, can you be more specific about what the dialog was 
on Cuba and bringing it into a more democratic society?
    President Clinton. Actually, we had a general conversation about it. 
As you know, the position of CARICOM and the position of the United 
States with regard to trade with Cuba is different. I just simply 
reiterated that the Cuban democracy act does not sanction any trade with 
Cuba unless it is somehow subsidized by governments. That is not 
contemplated, so the difficulty issue we just got off the table, and 
then we talked a little bit about what the prospects were for economic 
and political reform in Cuba, something that is devoutly to be hoped for 
by the peoples of all the nations here represented. But there was 
nothing more specific than that.


    Q. Mr. President, if the Bosnian peace agreement is reached in 
Geneva, how many American forces would you be willing to offer to help 
enforce that agreement? How long would they be required to serve? And 
what would be the risk to those forces?
    President Clinton. Well, first of all, whether I would be prepared 
to do that or not depends on whether I'm convinced that the agreement is 
both--is fair, fully embraced by the Bosnian government, and is 
enforceable. That has been a source of concern for our military planners 
all along--about, you know, whether we could have something that would 
be enforceable.
    But I made clear last February, and I will reiterate again, the 
United States is prepared to participate in a multinational effort to 
keep the peace in Bosnia. But I want to see what the details are. I want 
to get the briefing on it. I want to know that it will be enforceable. 
But I'm certainly open to that, but I also want to know whose 
responsibility it is to stay, for how long.
    It's a little bit different than the situation in Somalia, for 
example, where you really have two problems that relate to one another. 
There needs to be a lot of nation-building in Somalia from the ground 
up, a lot of institution-building. We did go there to stop the 
starvation and the violence and the bloodshed. But it's also true that 
the absence of order gave rise to all those problems.
    And so we're still trying to fulfill our original mission in 
Somalia. This is a very different sort of thing, but I certainly think 
it can work. A multinational effort to keep the peace, if it is 
enforceable and the understandings are there, can clearly work. You can 
see that in the longstanding success we've had in our participation in 
the aftermath of the Camp David agreement.

[[Page 1411]]


    Q. Mr. President, my question is for Prime Minister Patterson, if 
you could step to the microphone. Going back to Cuba, what is the 
position of CARICOM in regards to Cuba? And do you think you can do 
anything to bring Cuba back into the democratic fold?

    Prime Minister Patterson. First of all, what we are seeking to 
establish with Cuba is a joint commission that discusses the range of 
matters no different from those presently covered by a joint commission 
with Mexico, with Venezuela, with Colombia. It is not an agreement that 
provides for subsidized trade with Cuba and therefore does not offend 
any existing legislation in the United States or elsewhere.

    We feel that the time has come for all countries in the hemisphere 
to work towards a normalization of relationships among them. There are 
differences between the political systems in Cuba and those in the 
CARICOM countries. We remain firmly committed to the democratic 
tradition. But Cuba unquestionably is a Caribbean country. That is a 
reality which we must face, and we believe that the joint commission 
should assist in the process of inducing Cuba towards the sorts of 
policies and programs that are compatible with those of other 
independent nations in the hemisphere.

    Q. Would you like to see the U.S. do the same thing?

    Prime Minister Patterson. What the U.S. does is a matter for the 
U.S. to determine. If we can assist anywhere in the process of contact 
or mediation, we are always prepared to do so.


    Q. Mr. President, in Mogadishu some of the humanitarian relief 
workers say that the U.S. raid early this morning was a blunder, and in 
fact, the U.S. military is making their job more difficult. What do you 
say to those who are there to help? And will the U.S. forces remain 
there long enough to capture Aideed? Is that a target for you?

    President Clinton. Well, the United Nations operation set that as 
their objective, and they asked us for our help in that regard.

    I would remind you that I understand the problems with this, but the 
United Nations believes and has ample evidence to support the fact that 
the supporters of Aideed murdered a substantial number of Pakistani 
peacekeepers and are behind the deaths of four Americans. So we have to 
deal with that. And I am open to other suggestions. I think the United 
Nations should be open to other suggestions.

    To date, we have tried to be cooperative with the policies that have 
been jointly developed. We have not been just simply driving this. We 
have really tried to work within the framework of the U.N. to prove that 
this thing could work over the long run. We've also tried to make sure 
that everyone understood that this is not all of Somalia we're talking 
about. We're talking about one part of Mogadishu. In much of the rest of 
the country, the U.N. mission has continued unimpeded and successfully. 
I don't think anyone wants to change the fundamental character of it.

    And so, would I be willing to discuss that with our people and with 
anyone else? Of course, I would. But I think it is very important to 
point out that what provoked this was people involved with Aideed 
killing the Pakistanis first and then the four Americans.

Caribbean-U.S. Relations

    Q. Mr. President--[inaudible]--talked about the need for--
[inaudible]. Is there a need to ensure the dialog continues through the 
establishment perhaps of U.S.-CARICOM policy machinery? What are you 
prepared to do?

    President Clinton. Well, I think there is a need for a continuing 
dialog. One of the things that I pledged today to these leaders is that 
next year when the conference on the sustainable development in smaller 
nations is held in the Caribbean, that the United States would send a 
high level delegation there. And we didn't discuss any specific 
mechanism. But I think it is very important. You know, all these 
nations, and others not here present, in the Caribbean, are at different 
points in their history with different challenges. And I think that what 
we need to do is to make it clear that the United States is committed to 
democracy, to market economics, and to economic growth of this region 
over the long run. Here even at home we find great difficulty in 
predicting with precision what's going to happen economically, because 
we're in a period of real profound eco-

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nomic change. And I think it's important that we make these commitments 
over the long run and that we keep the doors of communication open, and 
that's exactly what we intend to do.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President's 24th news conference began at 2:09 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House.