(February 23) – The meeting of the regime change Lima Group hosted by Canada on February 20 in Ottawa comes right on the heels of Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s meeting on February 18-19 with leaders of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Bridgetown, Barbados. He was sent as a substitute for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The 15-member organization has served as an effective block to attempts by the U.S. and its allies to use the discredited Organization of American States (OAS) as a political weapon against Venezuela. It has denied them the number of votes needed to take action against Venezuela in the name of the OAS. This led the U.S. and Canada to set up the illegitimate Lima Group outside the OAS for the purpose of advancing their illegal regime change project.
In March 2019, the online periodical Misión Verdad exposed a clumsy maneouvre by the Canadian government in which it sent a low-level representative to a meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), held on the island of Guadeloupe in January 2019. The aim was to facilitate a direct link between Venezuelan imposter Juan Guaidó’s team and the prime ministers whose governments make up CARICOM. The leaders rejected the maneouvre.
First, the envoy did not possess the appropriate diplomatic level necessary for such a meeting to take place.
Second, the sending of such a lowly functionary to a ministerial meeting showed contempt for the Caribbean.
Third, CARICOM stood for dialogue and peace, not subversion and aggression. 
This was the reason for the decision to send the Canadian prime minister to Barbados as the last stop of his recent African tour. Trudeau has had no trouble vacationing at luxurious resorts in the Caribbean but hitherto has never officially visited the region since his election in 2015. His visit was cancelled “due to pressing domestic matters” – the crisis in the government from the resistance of the Wet’suwet’an Land Defenders, who are winning national and international support for their refusal to allow an oil pipeline to pass through their land.
A confidential Global Affairs Canada (GAC) document tabled by the Guadelope meeting also contained the proposal of the Trudeau government, which at all times acted as representative of the Venezuelan opposition, to establish an organization parallel to Petrocaribe, a Venezuela-CARICOM energy partnership, called “Cooperation and Energy Stability Agreement”. 
The Caribbean leaders reminded the Canadian envoy of their full support for dialogue between the parties in Venezuela. They reminded Canada of the fact that Petrocaribe is being sabotaged by both U.S. sanctions and regional pressure against Venezuela, supported both by the Trudeau government and by the U.S.-financed and organized Venezuelan opposition and the figurehead Guaidó.
“Know your enemies, but also be sure you know your friends”
On May 24, 2019 the caricom.org website published a review of Canada-Caribbean relations titled “CARICOM/Canada Relations: Know Your Friends” by Elizabeth Morgan, a specialist in International Trade Policy and International Politics. She cautioned against the illusion of a “special friendship” with Canada:
“I am of the view that CARICOM and its Member States need to undertake a strategic review of the relationship with Canada to arrive at better understanding and a policy position which can guide their relationship with Canada at this point in the 21st Century. In relationships, it is not only know your enemies, but also be sure you know your friends.”
During the conclusions of the recent Barbados meeting, Caribbean leaders took a number of important decisions which run counter to the aggressive U.S-Canadian policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean. Refusing to be divided, they rejected the U.S. blockade of the socialist island republic of Cuba and the slanderous attacks of the Trump administration against its renowned medical internationalism. The Caricom website informs that their communique
“expressed strong condemnation of the suggestion that medical scholarships provided by the Government of Cuba to CARICOM Nationals, was a form of human trafficking.
“They acknowledged that, of their own first-hand knowledge, the persons sent had added tremendous value to helping their citizens.
“The Heads of Government expressed ‘deep appreciation’ for the medical assistance provided by Cuba to CARICOM Member States over the years. They said this assistance has helped to build their health sectors.”
“The Communique also recorded and reiterated the Heads of Government’s concern over the enhanced sanctions announced by the US Government under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act which strengthen the U.S. economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. They denounced as unjustifiable, the application of laws and measures of an extra-territorial nature, that are contrary to international law.
They also took a number of other important decisions including sending an independent fact-finding mission to Haiti and restructuring of the CARICOM Development Fund, in an effort to reduce disparities between the member nations.
For its part, on this occasion Canada kept its maneouvring against Venezuela and Cuba behind the back, all the while overtly stressing its humanitarian and benign motives. A GAC press release states:
“Together, Minister Champagne and CARICOM leaders agreed to launch an annual Canada-CARICOM dialogue to discuss political, trade, development and security priorities specific to the almost 20 million people who call the Caribbean islands home.
“Champagne highlighted new Canadian funding to support CARICOM efforts to counter the devastating impacts of climate change. These efforts range from emergency response and preparedness, to climate smart agriculture and the blue economy. He also offered to expand the scope of Canadian technical expert assistance in areas prioritized by CARICOM countries.
“In bilateral and group discussions at the CARICOM Inter-sessional Meeting, the Minister also underscored Canada as a vital partner in advancing shared regional and global interests, as it continues to pursue its candidacy for the United Nations Security Council in 2021-2022.” (emphasis added)
And that, says the vital partner, is that. The cheque book is out – yet neither the amount of funding, the “security priorities” and economic promises are mentioned, nor are the shameful results of Canada’s alleged protection of the devastating impacts of climate in Haiti, especially since the earthquake ten years ago. Nor has the Canadian media reported on the shameless intervention by Champagne.
“Security priorities”and “emergency response”
How Canada defines “security priorities” and “emergency response” is a serious matter of concern. First, instead of providing internationalist assistance on the basis of equality, mutual respect and benefit to the recipient nation, the Trudeau government thinks that small countries who are suffering from the global crisis of the imperialist system and seeking a way forward can be simply bribed. This is not only contemptuous of their suffering, imposed on them by the very countries doing the bribing, but is in total denial of the corruption such bribery encourages. Canada’s view of the West Indies is unacceptable. It uses the language and techniques that shore up U.S. interests, descending to the humiliating point where, instead of taking an independent stand like CARICOM does, Canada imagines that the region is part of its “global backyard”. Chrystia Freeland, when she was Trudeau’s minister for foreign affairs, infamously stated to the press:
“the crisis in Venezuela is unfolding in Canada’s global backyard. This is our neighbourhood. We have a direct interest in what happens in our hemisphere”.
Secondly, it links this bribery with creating an institutional bilateral mechanism to “discuss” “security priorities” which are first and foremost posed by the U.S. and the financial oligarchy striving for world hegemony, including markets, resources, etc. In this context, “security priorities” and “emergency response” are simply code words for military integration, training and intervention.
Objective reality of the people of Haiti illustrates the pathetic fraud of “emergency response” and “humanitarian aid.” Yves Engler noted recently that “Canada disbursed $657 million from the quake to September 2012 ‘for Haiti,’ but only about two per cent went to the Haitian government.” In parallel, 33 per cent of U.S. aid went to the U.S. military occupying Haiti. All the countries that militarily occupied Haiti through MINUSTAH are today organized as the extra-legal Lima Group.
As a reminder, Canadian Forces deployed 22 destroyers, an aircraft carrier and its 28 aircraft, two submarines, 12 shore-based Tracker aircraft and 32 Argus patrol aircraft, not including auxiliaries and harbour defence vessels to participate in the U.S. naval blockade of Cuba in October 1962 (Maritime Command, as part of the NATO Atlantic Fleet, without the approval of the Diefenbaker cabinet); sent warships as part of a U.S. fleet off the coast of Haiti during the 1963 uprising and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965; sent arms to Trinidad to crush a popular upsurge in 1970; sent troops to conduct intensive training in “jungle warfare” in Jamaica between 1969 and 1972 and helped destabilize the Manley government; sent RCMP forces following the overthrow of the Grenada government in 1983; participated in the illegal blockade and mining of the harbours of Nicaragua in 1984 and supplied ammunition to the Contra forces; and sent troops and RCMP forces to overthrow the Haitian government in 2004. It annually deploys warships and/or observers to participate in sabre-rattling U.S. Southcom exercises (e.g., UNITAS, Panamax, Tradewinds, Op Caribbe) along with NATO bloc members France, Netherlands and Britain, and NATO fleet exercises in the Caribbean, all of which are now aimed at Venezuela and its allies. The Canadian Forces are fully integrated into NATO and NORAD, Northcom and Southcom and the U.S. imperialist machinery of war.
It merits attention that Canada has operated since June 2012 a military hub in Kingston, Jamaica – essentially access to facilities at a port, airport and military base justified at the time as providing quicker emergency response to hurricanes. Yet none of the activities of the Canadian Forces during 2017 Hurricane Irma to provide assistance used this base. Assistance was selectively directed to the Bahamas and Martinique, colonial possessions of NATO countries Britain and France respectively. Canada has fully militarized “disaster assistance.”
“Banker to the Caribbean”
“Climate smart agriculture and the blue economy” is fancy code for neo-liberal economic penetration cloaked as an environmental “counter” to “devastating impacts of climate change.” As the government is silent about the details, permit an observation.
To carve out its own sphere of influence in the Caribbean and Latin American has been always a dream of a long line of Canadian administrations, finance capital and empire builders over the past century. The activation of Canada as part of its hegemonic empire has always been a long time option of Washington, as spelled out in different strategy documents.
The financial oligarchy through the summit of the big banks and insurance companies has enriched itself enormously from the plunder of the Caribbean since the 1800s as part of the British colonial system and such banks as Barings, a stronghold of British finance capital and financial agents for Canada in London , and the Colonial Bank of the West Indies. The wealth of the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Royal Bank – both of which were founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia – was originally generated from the significant mercantile trade from the Atlantic fisheries to provide protein to the slave plantations (the triangular trade) and later in the sugar, rum, and coffee trade, exploitation of railways, shipping, electrical power, bauxite and other mining resources; and military adventures. The banks were followed by the insurance companies, e.g., Sun life Assurance Co. and Confederation Life. They never invested a single cent in development of the immense human productive forces of the island nations, other than what was needed to satisfy the start-up of operations. All the profits were repatriated by Anglo-Canadian capital. Much of the profits of Barings, which enriched itself from slavery and the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, were re-exported to finance the railway and territorial expansion of the U.S. and Canadian colonial states in the 1800s. 
From 1889 the Bank of Nova Scotia openly set its policy for expansion in the Caribbean in step with the invasion and solidification of control by the American military: “They (Canadian Banks) concentrated their branches within the Caribbean because of the growth of U.S. involvement in this region after the Spanish-American War. Establishing branches in the Caribbean placed the expansion of their business under the umbrella of U.S. imperialism, which implied rapid growth in the trade and commerce of the region and the political and military control necessary for stability.” 
Today Canadian banks control more than 60 per cent of the Caribbean’s banking sector to the detriment of their economic development. This means that they conducted more than 60 per cent of the region’s transactions. Canada also has a permanent seat on the board of the Caribbean Development Bank. Nevertheless the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Royal Bank over the past year have been seeking new neo-colonial arrangements to minimize their risk. Whatever this oligarchy cannot control it seeks to destroy the human productive forces and anyone who stands in its way. Scotiabank, for example, holds over $US 1 trillion in assets and reported a profit of CAN$1.98 billion a year ago. It used to call itself the “Banker to the Caribbean” and operates 370 branches in 23 countries in the region. It seeks to transfer $20 billion assets it owns in the region to a new financial partnership headquartered in Trinidad. Its aim is maximum rate of profit, not average rate.
Caribbean leaders are denouncing the maneouvre which is being carried out behind their backs without even elementary consultations with the Caribbean countries and indigenous banks. This has aroused great concern. Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organization of American States, asks, “Is this another demonstration of the persistent contemptuous behaviour that small countries confront in the international arena – the doctrine of ‘might is right’?”
Old program in new colours
The Trudeau “security” program is an old program of the former Trudeau government dressed in new environmental colours.
In the early 1980s as part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative of the Reagan administration against the bogey of the “Cuban threat” , the Canadian government gave special importance to the training of “cadres,” mostly young people, recruited from the Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Bermuda, etc., from the British West Indies within the framework of its “military assistance and co-operation” programme to this region. In 1980, the federal cabinet approved a para-military programme to “assist” Caribbean countries with training for coast guard and police marine units. These recruits were equipped to operate the marine police forces, which were being set up and expanded along the coastal zones of these countries, as well as for customs control and coast guard patrols. The head of the Canadian Coast Guard was Rear Admiral Andrew Collier, former head of Maritime Command. 
Prime Minister Trudeau, in his speech in February, 1983 to the leaders of 16 Caribbean Commonwealth countries on the island of St. Lucia, stressed among other things that this programme would be increased and extended. The Canadian government recruited youth from Trinidad and Tobago who, after being processed in a Toronto high school, were then trained in the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. There, besides acquiring military skills, young people were taught the methods of coping with demonstrators, along with the specialized, inhuman “commando” skills. Following their training in Canada, these agents returned as front-rank officers in the armed forces of the island nations. 
Trudeau further pledged, in the carrot-and-stick approach characteristic of the Liberals, to double aid to the region to total CAN $260m by 1987, also part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Trudeau promoted “the belief that they (the Caribbean – ed.) have a special friendship with Canada based on trust and support.”
At that time, People’s Canada Daily News published by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), pointed out: “Far from having ‘no strings attached,’ the Canadian military-economic ‘aid’ and initiatives are of the same nature and made with the same aims as those of U.S. imperialism itself. It is in order to achieve these nefarious aims that the Canadian government and its armed forces are increasing their activities in Central America and the Caribbean” – this time through the Lima Group and other fronts as the self-styled “vital partner.” It is, so to speak, a tactical division of labour, also known as the “good cop, bad cop” shuffle. 
1. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 member states and five associate members, representing a region that is home to approximately 16 million citizens. It was created July 4, 1973, with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which transformed the Caribbean Free Trade Association to create a Common Market. It includes countries considered to be “developing,” and all members and associate members are island states, with the exception of Belize in Central America, and Guyana and Surinam in South America.
The organization emerged as a product of 15 years of efforts to promote regional integration and was constituted with the fundamental objectives of raising the standard of living and working conditions in the region’s nations; reducing unemployment; accelerating, coordinating, and supporting economic development; and promoting trade and economic relations with third countries and blocs of nations.
Caricom’s principal governing bodies are its Conference and Council. The Conference is the highest authority of the regional organization and includes the heads of state and government of member countries. It is responsible for establishing policy and authorizing the signing of treaties within the Caribbean Community and with other integration organizations. The Council, for its part, is composed of Foreign Ministers and responsible for the implementation of strategic plans, coordinating the integration of different sectors, and promoting cooperation among members. Caricom is the world’s oldest regional integration movement, and although often unrecognized, its accomplishments have been many, especially in concrete cooperation in the areas of education, health, culture, and security.
2. Petrocaribe is an oil alliance involving Caribbean member states. The alliance was founded on 29 June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, Venezuela offering the other member states discounted oil supplies based on a concessionary financial agreement. Petrocaribe has been part of the trend in Latin America seeking to achieve post-neoliberal development in the region.
3. “Exclusive: Caricom rejects Canada’s proposal to undermine Petrocaribe,” March 20, 2009. Tony Seed’s Weblog.
4. Sir Francis Baring is said to have made his fortune as a slave dealer while only 16-years old. He funded the British army that attacked the Haitian Revolution. Francis Baring and his son Alexander Baring organized the financing of the French Louisiana Purchase of one million square miles by the United States in 1803, which reportedly helped finance Napoleon’s planned invasion of Britain. Baring drew a substantial personal windfall from both the commission on the sale and the massive expansion of slavery across the American South; this territory was converted to an intensive sugar economy receiving an estimated 280,000 slaves through the “internal” slave trade between 1810 and 1860 as well as the expansion of grain and livestock production (by small farmers).
Barings Bank itself was founded in 1810 with origins back to 1720, from investments it received providing credits to the dealers in human trafficking in the Atlantic slave trade and mortgages on West Indian plantations, reaping enormous profits; in the 1820s it aggressively invested in slave-produced cotton in the U.S. In 1831 Alexander Baring, now a member of the parliament, claimed that the West Indies were “real and material sources of wealth and power” for Britain, and that immediate emancipation threatened the “destruction of all the capital now employed in that branch of commerce”.
Barings, known as “the world’s sixth great power” owned numerous sugar plantations in St. Kitts and in British Guiana, receiving some ten million pounds of the total £20-million in “compensation” from the British state in 1839 for the emancipation of their “property” – all in all, 655,780 human beings of African descent that had been enslaved, brutalised and exploited by British colonialism. This represents £76 (US$117) billion at today’s value, None of the money went to the enslaved Africans, who still had to do unpaid work for their owners under an “apprenticeship program” of indentured servitude that ran for another four years. It is striking that British abolition in 1833 was paralleled by Baring Brothers aggressively investing in slave-produced American cotton so that in the same year it represented a quarter of the bank’s total revenues. 
In 1842 Bingham Baring, son of Alexander Baring and second Baron Ashburton, negotiated the Webster-Ashbuton Treaty in which a substantial area of New Brunswick (essentially the geographic hump that sticks up into Canada) rich in timber resources was handed over to Maine, where Ashburton had investments. The Anglo-American collaboration formalized in the treaty mainly aimed at protecting the slave routes which were threatened by the famous revolt on board the American slave ship Creole in November, 1841. They diverted it to the Bahamas, where the population successfully demanded that the British grant the rebels freedom.
Barings Bank was also behind the forced union of the Canadas in 1841. R.T. Naylor remarked that Baring Brothers were the true Fathers of Confederation. It acted as the exclusive financial agents for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as Upper Canada along with George Carr Glyn, a big investor in the colonies. By the last quarter of the 19th century, Baring Brothers was financing one quarter of all U.S. railroad construction, along with the Intercolonial, Grand Trunk and Canadian Pacific railways in Canada. A railroad town in British Columbia was renamed Revelstoke, in honour of the leading partner of the bank.
5. The benefits of the monies from the slave system still exist in Canada today. For example, along with being a foundation of Canadian banks, they were also the basis of wealth for many leading Canadian families, among them the “father of Confederation” Sir John A. Macdonald who had a direct personal family link to slavery. His father-in-law, Thomas James Bernard, owned a sugar plantation near Montego Bay, Jamaica and 96 enslaved Africans. He received £1,723 “compensation” from the government, a vast sum considering the annual salary for a skilled worker in Britain at the time was around £60. Macdonald married Bernard’s daughter, Agnes, 1st Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, in 1867. Macdonald had to resign in 1873 when the Pacific Scandal exposed his receipt of campaign donations from the owner of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
From Halifax, others include the Stairs family (providing six generations of directors of the Royal Bank; Dennis Stairs, Harper’s first chief of staff, from the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University) and the Ritchie family (slave-owning United Empire Loyalists, successively corporate lawyers and justices of the Supreme Court; Charles Ritchie, ambassador to Washington, NATO and the United Kingdom, and his brother Roland Ritchie, justice of the Supreme Court). The main street, Spring Garden Road, bears the name of a sugar plantation.in British Guiana owned by Francis Baring, partner in the firm between 1823 and 1864, who unsuccessfully claimed £3,421 in “compensation.”
Earlier, London-based slave owners played a significant role in the settlement, exploitation, expansion of Canada in the 1820s and 1830. The Hudson Bay Company, Canadian Land Company and British American Land Company all included British slave owners on their board of directors.
6. Quigley C Neil, “The Bank of Nova Scotia in the Caribbean, 1889-1940.” Business History Review, Winter 1989 v63 n4 p.797. Raul Rodriguez Rodriguez, professor and researcher at the Center for the Study of the Hemisphere and the United States at the University of Havana notes that “In fact the Canadian chartered banks pioneered the finance of international trade between the United States and the Caribbean in which Cuba was the centrepiece. By 1958 more than 70 per cent of all life insurance policies held by Cuban nationals were underwritten by Canadian Life insurance companies Cubans had deposited with the Manufacturer’s, Confederation, Crown, Imperial, and Sun-Life insurance companies at least U.S. $400 million, with millions of dollars in other types of general insurance coverage also handled by these and other Canadian firms.” (Canada, the United States and Cuba: The Triangular Relation between 1959 and 1962 as seen in Cuban Diplomatic History, Working Papers Series, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, 1/10, Harvard University.)
7. For a discussion, see Sir Ronald Sanders, “Withdrawal of Canadian banks: opportunity to remedy not repeat mistakes, December 12, 2019,” and August, 29, 2019.
Of the manoeuvring by the Bank of Nova Scotia, Sanders writes:
“Scotiabank’s decision not to discuss the sale of its holdings in nine Caribbean jurisdictions with the governments concerned, in advance of concluding an agreement, was extraordinary, particularly as, in Canada, no bank or bank branch can carry on business without obtaining the approval of the finance minister and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. The Bank appears to believe that it could contravene in the Caribbean what it would be obliged to obey in Canada.
“Apart from ignoring the law in Antigua and Barbuda, and elsewhere, to first obtain the agreement of the governments for a sale in order to secure a ‘ vesting order’, Scotiabank’s decision demonstrated a lack of good corporate judgment. It could not have been difficult to engage governments about plans to sell before concluding a sale agreement with RFH. Unless it assumed its clout would hammer acceptance of the sale.
“Equally disdainful behaviour by Scotiabank was the way in which it informed the nine Caribbean jurisdictions that it had settled the sale arrangement. That information came through a public announcement, issued to the media, on 27 November 2018. Governments of the nine jurisdictions and their Central Banks, the regulatory bodies for banking, learned of the sale arrangement simultaneously with the general public.
“Why would a Canadian financial institution that has been present and money-spinning in the Caribbean since 1889 and which reported a profit of CAN$1.98 billion a year ago, treat the Caribbean region so disparagingly? Is this another demonstration of the persistent contemptuous behaviour that small countries confront in the international arena – the doctrine of ‘might is right’?”
8. In 1980 the Santa Fe programmatic document for the Reagan administration had spelled it out:
“Canada must be induced to assume greater responsibility in American defence and development by extending its influence into the former British West Indies colonies in and around the Caribbean. (It) should be warmly encouraged to meet its responsibilities in the region by promoting the economic development and political civility of the English-speaking Caribbean.” (A New Inter-American Policy for the Eighties. Prepared by The Committee of Santa Fe for the Council for Inter-American Security, 1980, published by the Council for Inter-American Security, Inc.)
Or take the US Joint Chiefs of Staff 1982 posture statement: Canada “assists in securing the U.S. northern and southern flanks, thus precluding the necessity to commit substantial U.S. forces to the area during a crisis.”
7. In February 1998, Shunpiking Magazine discovered the presence on the staff of the Coast Guard College in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia of a former Nazi collaborator from Latvia, formerly with the Royal Military College in Kingston. Outraged Jamaican cadets reported his racist abuse to the RCMP detachment in Sydney. The young RCMP officer who filed the report was summarily transferred out of the Sydney detachment.
8. Tony Seed, “Vigorously oppose the role of the Canadian bourgeoisie in Central America and the Caribbean,” People’s Canada Daily News, Volume 13, Number 178, August 26, 1983.
9. Andrew Stewart, British Businessmen and Canadian Confederation: Constitution Making in an Era of Anglo Globalization, 2008, Montreal: McGill University Press, 2008.
10. Some of the information on Barings and the land companies is drawn from Dr Laurence Brown, “The slavery connections of Northington Grange,” University of Manchester, 2010; Peter Austin, Baring Brothers and the birth of Modern Finance, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2007, p. 63; and Nicholas Draper et al, Legacies of British Slave-ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain, Cambridge University Press, 2014 .Draper and others have developed at University College London a research centre for the study of the legacies of British slave-ownership. More information about their work and links to a database of compensation paid at abolition to former slave-owners can be found at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/project/project.
11. op.cit., People’s Canada Daily News, Volume 13, Number 178, August 26, 1983.
An earlier version of this article was published in TML Weekly, February 22, 2020.
For the information of readers, we are reposting two recent articles by Margaret Villamizar, a journalist with TML Weekly and related articles on the Caribbean