In his remarks, outgoing CARICOM Chairman, St. Lucia's prime minister Allen Chastanet emphasized the importance of acting cooperatively to face common problems such as climate change and integration.
"Act collectively to confront the hurdles before us, including those related to global uncertainties and the devastating effects of climate change," Chastenet said. "Let us move more purposefully and advance in this integration movement and implement measures to give it vibrancy."
Incoming Chair, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley also emphasized the importance of regional integration as a way to address the Caribbean islands' challenges.
When we left Castries in July last year, we had no clue that we would be facing a potential pandemic in the world with COVID-19. We didn't have any idea that our ability to function as a single domestic space would be threatened by that development.
Equally, we didn't realise that we would be able to rely on one of our regional institutions to be first the front-line protection and another regional institution to be the platform and bedrock upon which we can fight this virus.
The creation of the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security in 2006, followed by the Joint Regional Communications Center, was done initially to prepare us for Cricket World Cup 2007. But we understood then that its legacy and its enduring benefits would serve a Caribbean community for much longer.
It is that agency that is able to track the movement of people, thereby putting our border security officials on notice as to where risk is likely to occur with people entering our countries.
The ability for that agency to be linked in real time to Interpol, to the US Department of Homeland Security and to be able to have access to the travel histories of persons allows us to be able to make that determination at the level of our border security officials who we thank for being our frontline warriors in the protection of our people.
At the same time, CARPHA, a relatively new regional institution as well, has proven its worth to us by being able to ensure that along with the Pan American Health Organization, a number of our countries are today now in a position to be able to test quickly for whether persons within our jurisdiction have been infected with this dangerous virus.
I believe on behalf of the people of Barbados that there is always strength in unity. We have come from a movement across this region in the 1930s where we face common challenges and where our people, without the benefit of political organization or labour movements, found a way to respond and to be able to signal that we were prepared to take control of our destiny.
According to the Barbados Prime Minister, the solidarity attitude should also be displayed on the subject of the U.S. foreign policy's threats to the sovereignty of the Caribbean peoples' sovereignty.
"Only with unity, we can fight against imperialist governments that seek to oppress the peoples," PM Mottley stressed.
The Community is meeting not because of a common ideology, but because of familial bonds. “we are family; we are kith and kin. At any level: countries, homes and communities being kith and kin must stand for something.”
- Despite challenges we must determine how best to move forward with the character that defines us as being resilient.
- There is need for some self-examination, including reviewing Community governance
- Respect for process: “We have to be able to explain to people that in this modern world where everyone expects instantaneous action that we are involved an activity that more often than not is about respect for process in order to attain the results that we want”,
- Belief in the Region’s ability to have regional communication that is affordable and accessible is an absolute priority. Against this backdrop it is recognisd that the digital economy can play in new and powerful role in the development of our economies.
- A modest fixed single charge for roaming for all CARICOM nationals to cover the cost of data for the popular social media platforms will be announced shortly.
Established in 1973, CARICOM includes Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos, and Trinidad & Tobago.
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