Call for regional unity as Caricom celebrates 50th anniversary

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Heavy rains as a result of isolated thunderstorms failed to put a damper on the excitement as Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders Tuesday planted six poui trees as part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the regional integration movement.

In addition, the leaders from the 15-member regional grouping affixed their signatures to a letter placed in a time capsule that will be unsealed 50 years from now. The leaders also joined in a ceremonial flag-raising event that was held at the Convention Centre in Chaguaramas, west of there, the venue where the then leaders of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas, on July 4, 1973, heralding the birth of Caricom.

Dominica’s Prime Minister and Caricom chairman Roosevelt Skerrit said while he wanted to remind the region’s population that “we are living in a more difficult world than in the last 50 years”, it is still important for Caribbean countries to remain united in their stance to issues affecting the community.

“I suggested to the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago that we should come here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Caricom. And one of the reasons I wanted this to happen was for us to have some introspection and some reflection, and quite possibly to invoke the spirits of the founding fathers, to ask whether we are on the right track, or we are on the wrong track.

“I believe in large measure we are on the right track. But there are some things which we need to do… I will say to us in the Caribbean, I believe we’re living in a more difficult world now than 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago, and this requires us to be even more united in purpose,” Skerrit said.

He added that there were too many injustices that have been meted to the region over the years, such as the issue of climate change, and kicking down the bucket of firm decisions to address concerns in the Caribbean community.

He said: “Sometimes we feel like giving up, we feel like not going to any of the climate change conferences. But we must never relent on our fight against injustice. Like our forebears who fought for our emancipation, they never give up. And therefore we have to look even deeper within ourselves to continue that noble fight of ensuring that the developed world does what is just and right, where we are concerned, in regard to climate change.”

He said the issue of correspondent banking and de-risking was also another major issue confronting the region.

“I do not believe that the average Caribbean national understands the implications of this on their own individual household and circumstance. I would say to us in the Caribbean Community, this is not a government fight, this must be our fight in the Caribbean Community, every one of us must be a part. Because this poses an existential threat to our very survival and ability to trade with the rest of the world.”

Skerrit spoke of the international financial architecture and how it is skewed against the Caribbean.

“I am happy that we are pushing out with the Bridgetown initiative where we articulated a very clear view of what the problem is, and what are the solutions to the problem. And so it is a very simple solution.

“Because when we speak to those who have the opportunity to make those decisions, they give us the impression that is impossible. But we make laws and we go to Parliament to amend them. We go to Parliament to repeal laws. And as far as I understand it, outside of the Ten Commandments, we can change anything we wish to change in this world,” he said.

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