CARICOM Summit in Guyana opens with focus on crisis in Haiti

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The 46th Regular Summit of CARICOM leaders has brought distinguished political administrative minds to Guyana, where they opened the event on Sunday with a focus on the ongoing political, economic and social issues being faced by Haiti.

The Caribbean Community has reiterated its commitment the regional integration movement and has ensured that the appropriate measure to safeguard its success are being taken.

Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali, who is acting as the Chairperson of CARICOM, as well as the host President for this event, gave a well-received, all-encompassing speech which brought up many of the significant issues that are plaguing the region.

He stated that CARICOM is making a concerted effort to end hunger and malnutrition in the region by 2030, a goal which the community feels will also help back the regional initiative to bring down the Caribbeans food import bill by an impressive 25% by 2025.

With regards to regional security, which has been a priority on the agenda, Haiti struggles, specifically after the shocking assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, has raised concerns in the region, especially considering the fact that despite being long overdue, elections have not been held.

Even though the situation in Haiti is far from ideal, according to President Irfaan Ali, CARICOM will not deviate from its plans to stabilize the nation, especially since the security and prosperity of the region depends on it.

President Ali made it a point to appreciate the work put in by the CARICOM Eminent Persons Group, which is chaired by former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia. He praised their work, “in ensuring that we advance, in the interest of the people of Haiti because our region has one interest when it comes to Haiti.”

President Irfaan Ali added, “That is the people of Haiti and we will not deviate from that interest, the people of Haiti. And anything that impedes the progress of the people of Haiti is of immense concern for the leadership of this region.”

“Already today, we spent most of this morning on the very issue of Haiti. We are committed as a region in ensuring that the people of Haiti can also realise their full potential in peace, security and with good governance.”

“We owe it to the people of Haiti,” he said, adding sometimes as a region we are in tough positions and we have to take tough measures, but always the region’s toughness is always in the interest if the region’s people (and) that is fundamental for the region.”

Prior to President Ali’s address at the opening ceremony of the Summit, the Prime Minister of Dominica and the former Chairman of CARICOM, Roosevelt Skerrit, addressed the gathering. He also spoke of the situation in Haiti and highlighted the importance of dealing with the instability in the nation, as it tends to have far-reaching consequences within the region and beyond.

Prime Minister Skerrit stated the following during his speech, “Haiti needs the support of everyone in this world, every country in this world and I do not believe that we have the time or the luxury of time to continue talking about helping Haiti. We need to help Haiti yesterday.”

The opening ceremony was about four hours long but was not limited to speeches from the dignitaries as several artists took to the stage for cultural performances which were a great reflection of the region’s intricate history and traditions.

President Ali spoke of the effect singers have on the cultural progression of the region. Keeping this in mind, President Ali asked singers and artists to refrain from writing lyrics which go against the cultural and socio-economic development of the Caribbean.

President Ali and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley recently spoke to each other about the push back that was experienced from the youth of the region when a specific artist was asked not to perform at a show.

He highlighted the fact that the artist in question is on INTERPOL’s Red List, which is why the decision was made to stop his show, adding that, “we cannot allow our culture to be captured in this narrative.”

He went on to state the following, “We have to lead a revolution against this narrative and re-position our culture in the way it was conceived, that is for positive living and positive upliftment. And this is not about anyone or against anyone, this is for our region and the future of young people in his region.”

President Ali has been recognized for the role he played in formulating CARICOM’s 25 by 2025 initiative and is also responsible for handling matters related to agriculture on the cabinet.

According to him, the efforts being made currently, aim to bring an end to hunger and malnutrition in the region by 2030.

To this end, he stated the following, “The 25 by 25 remains a top priority. However, we are of the view that we must now focus on ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030. We are proposing to bring together the human assets that this region nurtured into international fame.”

“To bring their goodwill together as ambassadors. To mobilise international financing and support so that we can end hunger and malnutrition in this region by 2030. We have the capability.”

President Ali made use of world class sporting icons like the Jamaicans Usain Bolt, Chris Gayle, Clive Lloyd who became appropriate examples for the point he was trying to make.
“We have to use these assets to mobilise resources and create ambassadorial missions so that we can raise resources, revenue to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition”.

According to President Ali, food security continues to be a significant issue in the region as 57% of the regional population is affected by it. Compared to February 2022, the region has seen a rise by 1.3 million, which has become a matter of concern.

“This is an alarming number and of course we need not go into the reasons for this, the imported inflation, the increased costs of fertilizer …the availability of agro-chemicals, all of this hinders our development.”

This is precisely why the region has been working on improving the mechanisms of food production with in the Caribbean, while working with multiple international partners, ranging from Saudi Arabia to Canada.

These efforts have secured the funding necessary for ventures and initiatives in the food production sector and has focused on bring the women and youth of the region into the fold.

Despite these novel initiatives, President Ali expressed concerns regarding the regional barriers in place with regards to trade. He stated that it is of the utmost importance that the people the Caribbean region pressurize their leaderships to remove these barriers which have come in the way of previous intraregional efforts to ensure food security.

By doing so, President Ali believes that the Caribbean will be able to trade freely with itself, grow more food and most importantly, cut down on food imports from outside the region which have proven to be excessively expensive.

“We are continuing work to remove trade barriers within member states and the people of CARICOM must put pressure on the leaders to remove the trade barriers. People of this region, call on your leaders to remove these barriers.”

The Summit’s primary agenda on Monday is the situation in Haiti and Jamaica will play a role in the proceedings as well.

The Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee (PMSC) on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), is to inform leaders of the situation with regards to the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member states who are a part of the regional integration movement.

The Reconstituted Inter-Governmental Task Force’s (IGTF) work towards the implementation of the decision made by regional leaders to facilitate the free movement of all CARICOM nationals in the region will also be tabled.

The agenda for Monday also includes regional transportation, specifically with regards to an update on the status of “CARICOM Maritime Shipping Solution”, followed by climate change and climate financing. The agenda also includes an update on the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which is scheduled to take place in Antigua and Barbuda from the 27th of May, till the 30th of May.

It is expected that the leaders will go into a caucus to talk about the situation in the British Virgin Islands and the status of security issues in the region in general.

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was quite alarmed in January when the Governor of the British Virgin Islands, John Rankin, planned to implement the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) for governance reform.

Since Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the BVI, are all integral parts of the OECS, this has become an important point of discussion.

Ana Allen
Ana Allenhttp://writeups24.com
Anna Allen, news writer at Writeups24, is a Harvard graduate with a passion for journalism. With her keen eye for detail and insatiable curiosity, she captures the essence of global stories. Anna's writing informs and delves into cultural nuances. To reach Anna, you can email contact@writeups24.com

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