Antigua and Barbuda statement at OAS Permanent Council
October 12, 2018
Statement by the Permanent Delegation of Antigua and Barbuda at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States on 12th October 2018 ON THE TOPIC “ENCOUNTER OF TWO WORLDS” requested by the Permanent Observer Mission of Spain
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
First, the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda wishes to express its sincere regret to the Permanent Observer Mission of Spain, and the people and Government of Spain, for the hurt they experienced when one of their distinguished citizens and a former leader of their nation was recently characterised in an unseemly way by an official of this Organisation.
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation disassociates itself entirely from the crass remarks as every right-thinking delegation ought to do.
Spain is an honoured friend of every country in the Americas, and my own country treasures the modern-day relationship that happily exists between us.
My delegation has no wish to linger over the past.
Much of that past had a very dark side with repercussions that have cast a long shadow to this day.
Part of that dark past was genocide and enslavement of the native peoples of the Americas, and the gateway that was thrown-open for centuries of brutal slavery of African people.
That past was indeed linked to an “encounter between two worlds”.
It was an encounter between a lost Italian – Cristobal Colon or Christopher Columbus – and the people who had long inhabited the islands and mainlands that have come to be called “The Americas”.
The native peoples of these lands were not in need of discovery; they already had a civilization, a rich culture, and knowledge that suited the sustainability of their environment.
All that was either destroyed or desecrated by the arrival of Columbus and his crew who stumbled upon these lands in the mistaken belief that they had navigated a new route to the Indies.
It is time we stop trying to perpetuate that mistake and, instead, to acknowledge it and, in doing so, vow never to repeat it.
In any event, it is now scientifically established that the Columbus expedition from new Europe was not the first European encounter with this old world that had long existed.
Leif Eriksson and the Vikings were in these parts at least five centuries earlier.
But, unlike Columbus, they did not pave the way for extermination, exploitation and colonization that should never be a cause for celebration.
As my delegation stated early in this presentation, our county greatly values its modern-day relationship with Spain.
And, we welcome Spain’s participation as an honoured Permanent Observer to our Organization of American States.
In our relationship, we would like to stride forward to a bright future, not look backward at a dark past.
The encounters, upon which we should all concentrate, are those which proffer a better future for our common humanity on our shared planet.
There is much that we can do together to end the scourge of communicable disease; to stop the pervasive destruction of Climate Change and Global Warming; to cooperate in economic and social development; to end global inequality; and to foster peace in our shared world.
It is time we advance not in the false belief of two worlds, but in the reality of one world which our one humanity must make better.
We congratulate Spain on the positive role it plays today in global affairs and we welcome its efforts to make its present-day encounters with our nations mutually beneficial for all.
Thank you, Mr Chairman