MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica August 12, 2021 - Dr Carla Natalie Barnett, a native of Belize and the first-ever female CARICOM Secretary-General, is expected to assume office on Monday August 16, 2021. She was unanimously selected by the CARICOM Heads of Government in May and succeeds Ambassador Irwin LaRocque who has been in the office for ten years.
A former Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr. Barnett was formerly vice president of the Belize Senate and has served in various ministerial capacities in her country’s government. She has also served as Financial Secretary of Belize and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, as well as Vice-President (Operations) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
She obtained her Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona in Jamaica, and holds a Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the UWI.
Dr Barnett will be the eighth Secretary-General of CARICOM. The others were Fred Cozier of Barbados (1968, CARIFTA, precursor to CARICOM), William Demas of Trinidad and Tobago (1970-1974), Sir Alister McIntyre of Grenada (1974-1977), Dr Kurleigh King of Barbados (1979-1983), Roderick Rainford of Jamaica, (1983-1992), Sir Edwin Carrington of Trinidad and Tobago, (1992-2011) and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
On Monday, the Dominican, Irwin LaRocque who has served two five-year terms, paid a farewell courtesy visit to State House to meet with President Dr Irfaan Ali and Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo. He was presented an exquisite piece of woodwork from renowned Guyanese sculptor Winslow Craig as a gift of appreciation on behalf of the people of Guyana for the decade-long leadership the provided at the helm of CARICOM.
The assorted wooden sculpture of Silverballi and Saman, which represents Guyana and the other 14 member states in the regional body, was specifically crafted for the Secretary-General.
“This piece is entitled Strength and Wisdom. It is my pleasure on behalf of the people of Guyana to hand over this piece to you,” the President told Ambassador LaRocque.
“This is recognition, first of all, for your regional commitment, your leadership, strength of character, your wisdom and the prolific way you led …. Indeed, the region is stronger and better because of your service.”
President Ali said that Guyana is honoured to have benefitted from the outgoing Secretary-General’s “stewardship” and expressed the confidence that many persons, as well as communities with whom he interacted, would have also benefited from his wisdom, love, and his commitment to humanity.
“I am sure you and your family will have fond memories of Guyana. But we want you to know that the people of Guyana welcome you and see you as a Guyanese; after all, we are one CARICOM people.”
Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, a national of Dominica, assumed the office of Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on 15 August 2011, following his selection by the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on 21 July 2011. He is the seventh Secretary-General of CARICOM.
Ambassador LaRocque’s service at the CARICOM Secretariat began in September 2005, when he assumed the position of Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration. In that post Ambassador LaRocque provided strategic leadership for the continuing implementation and further development of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, he served as Permanent Secretary in various Ministries in Dominica for more than fourteen years, including in the Ministries of Trade, Industry, Enterprise Development, Tourism, and Foreign Affairs where he headed the diplomatic service. He also served as the principal advisor to the Government of Dominica on all matters pertaining to economic integration and regional and international trade.