The Diplomat. 23/07/2018
Small Caribbean archipelago of Antigua and Barbuda, which has less than 100,000 inhabitants and this year had counted 11 Spaniards residents, has opened its first resident Embassy in Spain, which is headed by Ambassador Dario Item.
Spain established diplomatic relations with Antigua and Barbuda in 1988, so this year marks its 30th anniversary. The Embassy of Spain in Kingston (Jamaica) is accredited before the Antiguan government, while the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda residing in the United Kingdom was the one accredited in Madrid until now.
The bilateral relations have had scarce content until now. In April 2014, the then General Director for Latin America, Pablo Gómez de Olea, was in the Antiguan capital to prepare the visit in July of that year of the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to participate in the summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Conversely, the same thing happened in 2006 and 2008 when, on the occasion of the 3rd and the 4th CARICOM-Spain summits, the then Antiguan Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, visited Madrid.
Given its small size, the foreign policy of Antigua and Barbuda arises in terms of its international organizations’ membership (United Nations system in particular) and also to others of a regional nature, such as CARICOM, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
Antigua and Barbuda, like many English-speaking Caribbean countries, maintains good relations with Cuba, a country with which it has a considerable volume of technical cooperation and exchanges within the framework of educational and health programs. Venezuela also traditionally exercises great influence in the area, increased since 2005 with the Petrocaribe agreement and since 2009 with the integration in the Venezuelan ALBA, which allowed Antigua to receive a loan of 50 million dollars as a budget support. In recent years, the Chinese economic presence has also entered strongly in the country.
Relations with the US are fundamentally in terms of control of drug trafficking and money laundering. Antigua and Barbuda signed an agreement with Washington that allows the US Coast Guard to prosecute suspected drug traffickers in that country’s territorial waters. Both governments are confronted, however, in relation to the Antiguan industry of online gambling and the participation of US citizens (not allowed by Washington).