US lobbyist says Clinton betrayed Caribbean in banana dispute
Activist Randall Robinson said Clinton lied when he pledged friendship
Caribbean leaders and support for their economies at a meeting in
Bridgetown, Barbados in 1997.
"When President Clinton told you that in Bridgetown, he lied," Robinson
said. "He lied and he knew he was lying -- and you should have known he
was lying because he lied before and presidents before him lied."
Robinson made the comments Wednesday night in speech to government
ministers, academics and university students. His group, TransAfrica Forum,
works to influence U.S. policy toward Africa and the Caribbean.
The United States claims trade preferences granted to bananas produced
former European colonies in Africa and the Caribbean penalize Latin
American producers and their U.S. distributors.
The United States is threatening trade sanctions on $520 million of imported
European goods ranging from sweaters to coffee makers unless the trade
benefits for Caribbean bananas are eliminated. It ordered importers this
month to deposit funds to cover increased tariffs.
The European Union, which is fighting the case before the World Trade
Organization in Brussels, claims the sanctions are illegal.
Robinson said the changes would devastate Caribbean growers and would
affect very few Americans. He repeated Caribbean leaders' charges that
Clinton is pursuing the trade battle as a favor to U.S. fruit distributors
Chiquita and Dole.
"This has nothing to do with (trade principles) -- this has to do with
campaign contribution," Robinson said. "The United States has no interest at
stake. We employ no banana workers to speak of in the United States. No
Caribbean bananas are even sold in the United States."