Troubled former Grenada PM “runs” to US diplomats, complaining about St Vincent’s Ralph Gonsalves by CARIBUPDATE NEWS SERVICE on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 at 07:27

GRENADA’S FORMER PRIME MINISTER DR KEITH MITCHELL complained to US officials about Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in what the Americans described as a “somewhat tense mid-April meeting’ back in 2006.

This was revealed in one of the diplomatic cables just published by wikileaks and obtained by CARIBUPDATE NEWS.

According to the cable, Grenada’s then Prime Minister “shared his fears that strongly leftist Caribbean leaders, led by St. Vincent’s Ralph Gonsalves, had persuaded (Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez that the pro-American Grenada government should not receive further Venezuelan assistance.”

The cable said that “Mitchell bewailed the non-receipt of some two-thirds of the USD 30 million Chavez had apparently promised Grenada.”

In the dispatch, the US official described the former Grenada Prime Minister of having “a history of running to U.S. diplomats when he is in trouble.”

But following the meeting, the US expressed optimism that they could use Grenada’s Mitchell to start to undermine what they viewed as Venezuela’s growing influence in the Eastern Caribbean.

“We have an opportunity to gently peel Grenada away from the Eastern Caribbean pack if we move carefully,” the diplomats reported back to Washington.

The cable said that during the meeting, the US diplomats gave Mitchell “hope that the United States may be prepared to engage again, which may have helped him get over his obvious reluctance to air internal Eastern Caribbean dirty laundry.”

According to the cable, Mitchell said he was convinced that “Ralph (Gonsalves) is dirtying me with Chavez.”

The cable said that Mitchell complained that the Vincentian Prime Minister had also influenced Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit and Antigua’s Baldwin Spencer in damaging his standing with Chavez.

“Reaching back to a public event in Cuba that probably took place in early 2006, Mitchell described his discomfort at appearing on the podium after Gonsalves delivered a fiery anti-American tirade,” the report seen by CARIBUPDATE said.

The cable stated further: “Mitchell said he could tell Castro was not happy with his more measured intervention; the first time Mitchell has felt such disapproval from the Cuban leader. “

The US diplomats, in the unclassified documents just published, said Mitchell was convinced that Gonsalves, and perhaps the other Eastern Caribbean leaders he mentioned, are behind Venezuela’s failure to deliver on further installments of its promised assistance.

Mitchell characterized Gonsalves as very close to “my political opponents, all of whom are strongly left-of-center.”

The then Grenada’s Prime Minister added that he is convinced that, if he takes a strong stance against Chavez, Gonsalves will fund the Grenadian opposition in a big way, or “more than he already may be doing.”

When the US officials complained that it was not getting enough support from the island on issues in international fora, Mitchell blamed his ambassadors.

“In a burst of candor, Mitchell admitted that he had trouble controlling his ambassadors, particularly Ruth Rouse, who was at the UN until recently,” the cable said.

It went on: “Rouse was very close to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Mitchell did not trust her not to tell NDC leaders in advance about actions he wanted taken. In one instance, Mitchell said, when he asked Rouse why she voted a particular way, she told him she had talked to other CARICOM member ambassadors about how they were voting and followed their lead. “

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