Unity plea

CARICOM harmony under the microscope at Barbados meeting

Unity among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states came under the microscope here as foreign affairs ministers from the regional grouping met for their 20th meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

A week after Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines wrote a strong letter to his regional counterparts complaining that CARICOM states were allowing “a small group of powerful nations” within the Organization of American States (OAS) to dilute the region’s collective strength by dividing the Caribbean states in a bid to overthrow the Venezuela government, both the outgoing COFCOR chairman – Gonsalves’ foreign minister Sir Louis Straker – and his successor, Barbadian Maxine McClean, emphasized the need to utilize the region’s collective strength to successfully tackle a number of global issues which have the potential to hurt the Caribbean.

“The present and future global environment demand that the Caribbean Community engage in a process of evaluation, revision and consolidation. To advance and realize the vision of CARICOM, it is imperative that we deepen and strengthen community engagement and, as a cohesive body, leverage our voices as one to derive maximum benefit for the region,” McClean told her counterparts.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade predicted that issues such as climate change, new and pending policies by the Donald Trump administration in the United States, Brexit and some international policies and sanctions would have an overwhelming impact on the 15-member community.

Maxine McClean

In fact, without going into details she said some of the policies being adopted and implemented by the US were already having an impact on the region’s sustainable development priorities and aspirations, and she pleaded with council members to “furnish the form and substance of the policy guidance” to combat those issues.

Growing unrest in Venezuela, along with attempts by the OAS to suspend the South American country, is an issue the region is grappling with, as several CARICOM countries are linked to the oil producing country through PetroCaribe.

In his letter to the leaders last week, Gonsalves had warned them against allowing themselves “to be ambushed into breaking our solidarity and aligning ourselves with fair-weather friends”.

He also complained that “a handful of powerful countries with an agenda of naked self interest” had strategically invited a few CARICOM states to meetings to discuss the Caracas crisis and had ignored the others, ensuring those countries had succeeded in “disuniting and weakening CARICOM countries whose only strength lies in our solidarity”.

The split was evident when Barbados last month joined 18 other countries, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia, in approving a meeting of OAS foreign ministers to discuss the deteriorating political and economic situation in Venezuela.

The Vincentian leader’s plea for solidarity was echoed by Sir Louis, who said only collective action would help member countries combat issues such as high debt, high youth unemployment, natural disasters, crime and non-communicable diseases.   

“Only our collective action can mitigate these challenges,” he said.

“In light of this challenging environment, I urge us as foreign ministers and custodians of foreign policy within the region to work through our governments to strengthen our coordination and negotiation.”

The outgoing chairman also warned that national priorities should “never diminish the significance of the region’s priorities” but must complement the regional effort.

It was a point emphasized by CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque in making a case for a collective response to climate change, correspondent banking and the blacklisting of regional jurisdictions as tax havens, saying they were “unwarranted, unhelpful and harmful to our economies”.

“We have seen the value and reaped the benefits of acting in concert, and issues such as those can only be successfully addressed if we continue to do so,” LaRocque said.


4 Responses to Unity plea

  1. Tony Webster May 20, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Incoming head of COFOR, Sen. The Honourable Ms. Maxine McCleam ” emphasized the the need for the region’s collective strength tackle a number of global issues which have the potential to hurt the Caribbean”

    Please ma’ m , while not expecting you to disclose the entire arsenal of weapons you will now deploy, might I just scribble a few of these tasks ahead of you…God go with you too..
    1. OECD blood-lust to disembowel many / all of out international Business Jurisdictions.
    1. The small matter of the vital link to international bank transfers, including day-to-dat trade, via Corresponding Banking arrangements.
    3.EU hand-outs by the ship load, for all sorts of social services. ( we would’n’t wish to put these noses out of joint, would we?)

    How could we ever, ( unless puffing-away on ready good Jamaican weed, think that we can face these global issues, as a cohesive unit, when we can’t even get a fishing agreement with our “good” Trinny friends…coming up to three decades?

    Jokes; Jokers;and a perpetual hol’ yuh belly an’ .

    BTW: next chance you get ( you cud ask Donald to open your next HOGS thing to give the keynote address) Problem would be, Barbados would not be mentioned, but he would tell you all he knows about the Bahamas, and his new hotel under construction there.

    By fragmenting ourselves, we have condemned our children to squabble amongst themselves, and into global insignificance. Seeminlgly, we have indeed perceived the only one alternative, steel evahting to the Chinese. Well, it’s true they don’t all allow chirches, but we cud give our God praise under a coconut tree.

  2. Tony Webster May 20, 2017 at 7:12 am

    My apologies for typos; have been flat on back last week , fighting the Trump virus. Yes, it’s spreading faster than a S.W.I.F.T. money transfer

  3. Milli Watt May 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

    imagine this crowd did begging chavez for oil a few years ago on………you guessed it CREDIT and now look ssttuuuupppssseeeee. If this is a debate you understand what kind a situation this group in. Bahamas, Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia and BARBADOS jump ship. Bahamas wid dem fake accent known for money laundering, guns and drugs, Jamaica all of the above and Dudus, Guyana well we know about the long running border dispute so no need to look for a reason there and dis place called BARBADOS. This is a special animal known for its questionable votes at the UN, branding citizens enemies of the state ( a brand of crack down), out of control debt on which it will have to depend on IMF and world Bank help and guess who owns the two mentioned ahhhhh the USA who does not support Maduro. I see why this crowd jump ship.

  4. Peter May 20, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Tony Webster, my Grenadian BT pen friend, No not an animal pen nor prison pen by any means, just simply a proficient user of the use of the pen whether it’s poetically or politically. You are grammatically sound par excellence. You used a very significant word in your last paragraph “fragmenting”. Our Caribbean is a group of INDEPENDENT Islands with individual constitutions, national flags, Coat-of-Arms, national anthems and national dress not to mention even dishes. Outside the OECS, we have our individual currencies all tied to the US dollar the mighty currency of trade. We try to fuse ourselves together through culture, and cricket even though we promote our own American styled Jazz festivals. And now we have Ganja but that is like the US dollar and gold. The entire world knows that. We think and dream of ourselves as one nation but hell no! we are insular among ourselves. So much for Caribbean unity and strength. Our politicians are there for three things. Power, Control and Money. That’s their true regional, separate but uniformly focused way of thinking. not to mention corruption. Mill Watt, you literally said everything. Only differently.


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