MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, April 2, 2021 - After ten years at the helm of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin La Rocque's tenure has come to an end, and the names of a number of persons have been submitted, including former CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett, who has been nominated by her country Belize, for the coveted post.
In his opening remarks at the recent 32nd Intersessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads in February, Chairman Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, noted that LaRocque’s tenure as secretary general would end in August.
In commending Ambassador LaRocque for his unwavering commitment to regional integration\, Rowley said:“I would like to put on record today that you, with your quintessential cool, calm and steady manner, have served our community with distinction. Well done.”
Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, a national of Dominica, assumed the office of Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on 15 August 2011, replacing the legendary 'Trinbagonian' Edwin Carrington, following his selection by the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on 21 July 2011. He is the seventh Secretary-General of CARICOM.
A Special Meeting of the Community Council of Ministers, to consider nominations and determine its recommendations to the Conference, is to be convened by mid-April. A Special Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government is to be scheduled for the end of April or early May 2021 to decide on the appointment of the next Secretary-General of CARICOM.
It is likely that Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan of Suriname will act in the post while there is a search for the new secretary general.
In fact, Suriname has nominated Soeknandan for the top post in CARICOM.
Soeknandan has served as Deputy Secretary-General at the CARICOM Secretariat since February 2014 and is very familiar with the member countries and the challenges of the region.
However, she will go up against the much favoured Carla Barnett who served well as Deputy Secretary- General. In addition to her previous work at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Barnett has also worked across the CARICOM region during her roles as an economist, later as vice president (operations) at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and as a consultant to development agencies working in the Caribbean.
In Belize, Dr. Barnett has been deputy governor of the Central Bank of Belize and was the financial secretary during Belize’s first successful debt restructuring in 2007. Under the previous administration, Dr. Barnett was vice president of the Senate and a minister of state in the Ministry of Finance.
Commenting on her vision for CARICOM, Dr. Barnett said that she sees “a CARICOM that the ordinary woman and man will defend because they feel the impact in their daily lives through economic and social advancement that comes from Community action.”
Dr. Barnett also stated that the Community should never be afraid to re-strategize, as it is now doing, when the needs are so great, and the resources are so scarce. She said, “The pandemic is forcing us to recalibrate and set new priorities for regional development. ‘Do more with less’ has new meaning for all of us. This does not mean less effective work. Indeed, increased incorporation of information and communication technology into our work provides opportunities for greater productivity and for CARICOM citizens to be much more involved in the strengthening of Regional integration well into the future, beyond COVID.”
The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which establishes the Caribbean Community and the CARICOM Single Market, provides that “the Secretary-General shall be appointed by the Conference of Heads of Government, on the recommendation of the Community Council of Ministers, for a term not exceeding five years and may be reappointed by the Conference.”
Since 1973, there have been seven Secretaries-General. They are William Demas, Trinidad and Tobago; Sir Alistair McIntyre, Grenada; Joseph Tyndall, Guyana (Acting); Kurleigh King, Barbados; Roderick Rainford, Jamaica; Edwin Carrington,Trinidad and Tobago; Lolita Applewhaite, Barbados (Acting); and Irwin LaRocque, Dominica.