PM Says US Contribution To Barbuda Relief Paltry


(NPR Interview)

For the people of Antigua and Barbuda, the images coming out of the Bahamas this week are familiar scenes of destruction. In 2017, Hurricane Irma lashed the island nation as a Category 5 storm. Earlier, I spoke with Gaston Browne, the country’s prime minister, about that storm and what it takes to recover.

PRIME MINISTER GASTON BROWNE: Luckily for us, we didn’t have a lot of fatalities. We only had one fatality – a small child – but the damage to property was devastating. In fact, 95% of the properties on Barbuda were damaged. Several of them were actually totally demolished. And it will take us years to fully recover Barbuda.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think, at the time, the estimates for rebuilding were in the hundreds of millions, $220 million…

BROWNE: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: …Which was a massive amount of money for a country your size.

BROWNE: And that is the reality of, you know, the cost associated with these storms. It’s the reality of climate change. I know your president doesn’t believe in climate change. But I hope he’ll change his position because, ultimately, it is countries here in the Caribbean that are really suffering the greater consequences from the effects of climate change.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. At the time, you also said that rich countries should pay for the recovery because they are the ones emitting the greenhouse gases. Do you think the same should happen with the Bahamas?

BROWNE: Well, absolutely. I mean, they should pay. They should compensate these countries in the Caribbean that have to deal with these ferocious storms that are literally damaging infrastructure, damaging people’s private properties and literally undermining our development.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, who did pay after Hurricane Irma in 2017? I mean, you did accept some help from China, which is a big greenhouse gas emitter. But I’m curious – did the U.S. not step up?

BROWNE: Well, what the U.S. gave was so paltry that I don’t think it was even regarded – and that’s no exaggeration – whereas I can recall that the People’s Republic of China made a contribution of $2 million U.S., Canada – $3 million Canadian, the European Union – 5 million euros. I do not recall that the U.S. made any significant contribution.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Obviously, the Bahamas are at the very earliest stages of their recovery, but what advice do you have for them as they look to rebuild?

BROWNE: Well, you know, the recovery is going to be difficult. I know the prime minister serving his government – they’re going to come in for a lot of criticisms because, normally, your residents call upon you for immediate recovery, not take into consideration the costs and that the cost, generally speaking – they are prohibitive. For example, the funds that have been pledged by Canada, by the United Kingdom, by the European Union, we have not been able to avail (ph) ourselves of those funds as yet. And I’m quite sure the government of the Bahamas will find itself in a similar situation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what has happened in Barbuda if you have not been able to get the money you need to rebuild, sir?

BROWNE: Well, we have over 1,200 properties that were damaged. We have rebuilt about 600 of them. So as a result, we still have internally displaced persons. And that is just the reality of very scarce resources.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Prime Minister, as you have mentioned, climate change predicts fiercer storms. Have you thought about what the future might look like in your country, which might make it uninhabitable?

BROWNE: Well, you know, we do not take that position. You know, we are not looking at the future as being a bleak one. We just have to continue to agitate for large countries, like the United States, to build capacity, to mitigate and, certainly, to adapt to climate change. It will be obvious that the world will be better as a result of that type of U.S. leadership.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Gaston Browne. He is the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

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  1. The America government will preferred to send volunteers to help with the cleanup and rebuilding Barbuda instead of giving hard cash dollars. So Mr. PM, please don’t you ever look for liquid cash from America if Antigua would be hit by a strong hurricane.

    • Perhaps you didn’t notice but these types of funds are hardly ever given in hard cash directly to the government. They always give them to the United Nation Development Fund to oversee the spending of the fund for a specific purpose. You saw them in Barbados accounting for the Chinese funds.

  2. The USA and Canada are joker countries, they haven’t given us any real financial aid. They make false promises and then try to suppress our financial sector. Honestly, there is no reason for Antigua to have diplomatic ties with the USA.

    Even if Obama was still president, the USA wouldn’t give us financial aid. Actually, when Obama was president USA aid to Antigua was at its lowest levels ever. Can we rename Mount Obama to something else please?

    The only country giving aid to Antigua and Barbuda is China, maybe a few others. I’m fine with Antigua being loyal to China instead of the USA for the next 50 years!

    • China does NOT care about Antigua’s people. They care about getting a foothold in this island for its’ strategic location and dumping some of their people here with instructions to open businesses and order absolutely everything they possibly can from China. They do not GIVE anything without a payback and that payback is doing more projects and charging horrendous amounts to do the project while ordering everything from…China…and apparently paying their “indentured” labour to do the job. How come China can take 12 years to build InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland located in a rock quarry at a cost of US$300million and charge us a US$100million each to do a very simple in comparison substandard yearlong airport and harbour renovation? From what I am seeing China could not care less about Hong Kong and they are pissed that Hong Kong and Taiwan people do not accept their communism and dominance. Everything for them is all about money and control. Highly unlikely that the USA, Canada UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and the other Asian countries are going to allow China to dominate them or steal their technologies. YIDA who has not contributed anything to our economy has proved to be nothing more or less than a hideous destruction to this country and has been mentioned online as one of the reasons for the departure of Scotiabank. Chinese are known to be extremely racist against foreigners, Muslims and particularly black people so I (not a politician) am not fine with being loyal to China and am yet to comprehend why they were given 5 acres prime land for something that appears to have no resemblance to an “embassy” especially since China is not on our visit list.

      • For a country that have been receiving Chinese help for the last 35 years I must say the amount of Chinese and their businesses is very small here. And if Antigua was so strategic for China I wonder why the Americans chose to leave their basis here. I guess the Chinese see what the Americans don’t. A small Island like Antigua with presently just about 100,000 people cannot mean anything to China. That is why our friendship has proven to be just out of respect for each other. Cause our Prime Minister V.C. Bird was visionary enough to see what China could mean for us in the future, even before they became an economic powerhouse that they now are.

        • To the best of my knowledge the Navy Base left Antigua because the Cold War no longer existed and guess what…Bases cost money, taxpayers’ money. For whatever reasons the other base moved its’ satellite equipment elsewhere. The Americans learned the hard way not to donate money because as is the apparent case with the first DWH many years ago they built it twice! No sensible country is going to put a pot full of gold outside of Ali Baba’s cave and leave it there…Look at all the examples of “monies missing” and unaccounted for that have happened in just the last 5 years. I am not saying that the UPP were/are angels in disguise but really and truly the grab and get rich quick order of the day right now is absolutely awful! As for the Chinese all I can suggest to you is to go and TRY and live there for a year or so and then come back and tell us all what a wonderful time you had and how much your neighbours embraced your presence and by the way while there make sure you keep all your internal organs intact since it is reported that China has a billion dollar business selling body parts and especially so from people who are Christians and Muslims. If the Chinese wanted to be so benevolent to Antigua at the very least they would employ locals and buy locally…and where is the concrete coming from for the massive buildings that go deep into the ground and look like anything other than an embassy?…Thank goodness that the USA has satellites that can very clearly pick up if they have a pimple on their butts!!

    • The USA aid to anywhere in the world these days is conditional. And Antigua under Gaston Browne is not willing to accept those conditions.
      I don’t think they make false promises. They make promises they just don’t keep. And i they do it has to be totally on their conditions and in their interest. If we would have been waiting on the USA for our development we would be still living in the 60s or 70s. It is called imperialistic thinking. They do not colonize. They just plunder the region and rob it from it’s minerals and resources. See how they are flocking into Guyana after Guyana struck black gold. And see how they now hate Venezuela after Chavez took control of all the oil and shared is with the entire Caribbean. Socialism they call it. Something they hate to the bone. Resources are to be used to enrich yourself and not to share as if you are father Christmas. That is why they are the only industrial country in the world that cannot have healthcare for all. They only voted for cannabis when they saw how much money was involved in it and they could control who get rich. Not the black man on the street who went to jail for it.

  3. With the blatant corruption in Antigua. I wouldn’t give the Gaston Brown self enrichment government a cent. I would be happy to send people and materials but he declined. Ever wonder why.

    • So if that’s the problem , why haven’t they? Trump already told you what he thinks of coloured people and their shithole countries . Wait long on the USA!

    • There is no country that has the biggest corruption than the USA. And everyday we get the revelations of it. The man in the White House is the biggest of them all. Even Military pilots and flight crew are ordered to stay in his hotels. Something they never did before. America under Trump is one big corrupt cesspool. And the sad thing is their elected officials that needs to hold oversight cannot even do their job.

  4. We have more Antiguans and Barbudans native born live and travel to America than any other country in the world. We need a visa to travel to America and to China but yet we preferred to travel to America instead. If we some of you feel so about America, then why keep traveling there instead of China?

    • Actually many of us are travelling to China and Asia. The future of the world is Asia and China – you might want to read some newspapers and get informed about that. The US is like a 1980’s thing, the world has moved on from the US nonsense.

      It’s time for Antigua to focus on China and Asia, that is the 21st century. Book you flight there now.

      • Seems as though the Chinese are cranking up their propagandists to try and put down the USA which China would love to copy their technology and control. Many of us are not travelling to China and our future (if it is to be a good one) is NOT China. I would never put the other Asian countries (except N. Korea) in the same category as China. China is a communist country that will sink to any low to achieve its’ world dominance and there is nothing at all gracious in their anti-everybody else behaviour and outright cruelty to other human beings (and animals for that matter). How disgusting is it to have internment camps for Muslims and other religions. Take their children away and practice indoctrination on them along with the body part business. It’s barbaric and I for one would never ever step foot in that polluted, racist, over populated country.

    • What does pointing out that the USA is not as generous as people think to small island states, especially black ones, have to do with travelling there?
      So because I think how Israel is handling Palestine is not right, or China Hong Kong, or the EU Brexit means I should never travel to these places?
      No one said they hated the USA!! Just pointing out facts.

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