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Packed agenda for CARICOM summit

The controversial decision by the Dominican Republic to deport some 200,000 undocumented residents of Haitian descent is among items on a packed agenda of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government who begin their their two-day annual summit here tomorrow.

Also high on the agenda for the 36th meeting are a request by Antigua and Barbuda on free movement and a long-standing maritime dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.

President of Guyana David Granger (left), Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro

President of Guyana David Granger (left), Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro.

The 15-member Community has already called on Santo Domingo to end the policy of deporting people of Haitian descent and “avoid a humanitarian crisis.”

In a statement released late last month the CARICOM secretariat reiterated the human rights of those people who had been made stateless by a ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court of 2013, which had been made retroactive to 1929, revoking their nationality.

According to the provisional summit agenda, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, the leaders will take a hard look at the situation in the Dominican Republic.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the leaders of the 15-nation grouping will also consider a request by their Antiguan counterpart, Gaston Browne, for the renewal of his his country’s five-year exemption from certain provisions of the free movement agreement.

In 2009, Antigua & Barbuda secured a derogation which allowed it to curtail the free movement of categories of workers, including nurses and domestics.

Back then, Browne’s predecessor Baldwin Spencer argued that 35 to 40 per cent of the country’s working population were non-nationals and called for “the Community to recognise member states’ constraints.”

Now, Browne is requesting that his colleagues grant him “ a renewal of the derogation in respect of household domestics.”

An official source has told Barbados TODAY that Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro will attend the meeting and “it could be only be about one thing,”  – the maritime dispute with Guyana.

Just last month Guyana warned it would “vigorously” resist any attempt by Venezuela to enforce a new claim over its coastal waters after Caracas issued a decree on May 27 laying claim to the waters off the Essequibo, a disputed territory that borders Venezuela and encompasses more than half of Guyana.

Guyana’s foreign ministry charged that the Venezuelan decree was a violation of international law and a threat to regional peace and security.

The CARICOM leaders will also receive an update from Belize on its border issue with Guatemala.

The lengthy agenda – 17 items plus the opening ceremony – includes discussion on a regional candidate for the post of Secretary General of the 53-nation Commonwealth, a presentation by Sir Hillary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of University of the West Indies, on “universities and the push for economic growth in the region” and crime.

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