Heads of Govt recommit to strengthening Caribbean

at CARICOM’s 42nd Regular Meeting

CARICOM Heads of Government have recommitted to strengthening and rebuilding their countries in the wake of several natural disasters that have wreaked havoc across the region in recent months.

Guyana and Suriname have suffered unprecedented nationwide flooding, while La Soufriere Volcano has wrought damage to a large swath of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And with the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Elsa has left a path of destruction across several islands. All this even as the countries continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Ministers of Government and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation during the CARICOM 42nd Regular Meeting

Monday’s commitment was made during the CARICOM 42nd Regular Meeting held virtually.

In his address, incoming Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Gaston Brown spoke on a number of issues that stymie the development of the Caribbean.

The Antiguan Prime Minister spoke extensively on climate change – which he referred to as a harsh reality that the Caribbean currently lives in.

“The causes of the climate crisis have already been established and the time has come for those countries irresponsible enough to continue emissions and practices to be held accountable. It is my view that real progress on the climate crisis will only be made when the major polluters are made legally liable for the damage they have caused,” he said.

To this end, PM Brown issued a call for climate change reparations. He emphasised that CARICOM heads must engage in vigorous diplomatic outreaches to build international consensus on this issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination drive were also highlighted in PM Browne’s speech. He noted that vaccination hesitancy plagues CARICOM states.

With aims of seeing that countries achieve herd immunity, the PM called on other Government Heads to give attention to vaccine hesitancy in the region.

“We must devise joint strategies in tackling it head on. It is vitally important for our economies to breathe again.”

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Ministers of Government and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation during the CARICOM 42nd Regular Meeting

Still on the issue of the pandemic, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Dr. Keith Rowley said during this period, CARICOM states have shared resources and expertise in battling the deadly disease.

The outgoing CARICOM Chairman said, “the solidarity that exists among ourselves, the respect, the care and that spirit of community is not to be taken lightly, and must be nurtured and lauded.”

Meanwhile, Secretary General of CARICOM Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, recalled the several crises that the Caribbean currently faces.

“At times like this…the true spirit of our community as member states are always the first responders. We must design a recovery that will not only resuscitate our economies, but also enhance the resilience of our community. It is our duty to fortify our community against the factors that threaten its viability and the sustainable wellbeing of our people.”

He said CARICOM’s unified voice is much sought after in the international community, and the desire to unify links is growing.

Meanwhile, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd, Foreign Secretary, Hon. Robert Persaud, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond and other officials attended the meeting.

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