Leaning on CARICOM
OAS head singles out example of Barbados
The Caribbean came in for high praises today from assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert Ramdin, for its role in helping to shape the political landscape within the Americas. And he has called on Caribbean states to continue to exert their influence.
During a Press briefing today, ahead of a trip to Canada, Ramdin, who will be demitting office next July, singled out Barbados for its leadership role in the development of its tourism industry, adding that the hosting of the OAS Inter-American Congress Of Ministers And High Level Authorities this week had signalled that development.
“We talk about concrete ways of which to strengthen the competitiveness of the tourism industry. And we have seen the negative impact, if things go wrong and if there is declining economic growth and how it affects tourism. I think this meeting has that opportunity to reflect on those developments and also to develop very concrete ways of addressing those issues in the coming two days,” said Ramdin.
“In my experience, what I have found is that the Caribbean has become much more relevant and stronger player in the Americas, in terms of the politics, but also in terms of what we can offer to the hemisphere, and especially in a couple of areas which in Latin America are going through a transition.”
Adding that Barbados was “the stronghold in terms of democracy in the Caribbean Basin”, Ramdin said the region could bring a good governance system to help other countries strengthen their democracy and governance systems.
“We have a civil service which is well experienced and can deliver; we have trade unions which are well developed; we have civil society organizations which have demonstrated a track record; we have a relatively good human rights track record; we have demonstrated the capability of overcoming many challenges this region has faced,” he declared, adding that the Caribbean represented over half of the membership of the OAS.
Ramdin said that given the “strong performance of CARICOM countries in the hemisphere, there was an expectation from some Latin and North American countries that CARICOM would “lead and will assume that responsibility”.
The OAS assistant secretary general said next year’s meeting was an opportunity for CARICOM leaders to bring to the table some key issues that were relevant to the region.
“One is natural disasters and the issue of how to deal with natural disasters. We cannot prevent them, but we have to mitigate them and reduce the risk. The same goes for the issue of climate change and sea level rise, and how we have to respond to those; equally issues of economic vulnerability which characterize many small countries in our region.
“So here we have an opportunity to exert influence, demonstrate leadership and take responsibility, and at some point we will see that it will benefit the Caribbean even more,” said Ramdin.
The ambassador said the Caribbean region was known for working with all stakeholders, especially civil society and the private sector. And this relationship, Ramdin said, had been noticeably strengthened, especially over the past decade.
“In terms of the broader agenda . . . we see a very strong connection between democracy, development and security. The one cannot flourish without the other. Without development, it is very difficult to tell people without jobs or regular income to adhere to democratic principles. Without a very good security environment it is difficult to attract investors. It will hamper development.
“This all needs to take place within the democratic framework of our countries,” urged Ramdin.