WASHINGTON, DC— Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a former Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, today reintroduced legislation to expand American diplomatic representation across the Caribbean. The United States–Caribbean Partnership Act would establish new American embassies in five countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines—with which the United States shares diplomatic relations but has no permanent diplomatic presence. Rep. Engel originally introduced the bill in the 113th Congress.
“Just as you can’t conduct diplomacy from a bunker, you can’t conduct diplomacy from hundreds of miles away. My bill would strengthen diplomatic ties with our Caribbean neighbors so that we can work even more closely on a range of issues, from promoting economic development and combating drug trafficking to our shared work through the OAS,” said Rep. Engel.
At present, all diplomatic relations with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are run out of the American Embassy in Barbados. This situation presents challenges for conducting in-person diplomacy and providing full consular services for American citizens living in these countries; the United States must fly diplomats to these locations at great difficulty and expense just to conduct face-to-face meetings. Rep. Engel reintroduced this legislation in advance of President Obama’s April 8th meeting in Jamaica with heads of state from the Caribbean.
Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) cosponsored the legislation. In 2011, an amendment authored by Rep. Engel to establish these embassies was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.