Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Caricom to face up to region’s growing crisis


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HEADS OF Government of the Caribbean Community – quite a few currently facing serious domestic financial, social and economic challenges – are now in possession of a packed work agenda for their forthcoming two-day Inter-Sessional Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines next month starting on February 24.
The harmful consequences of the phenomenon of climate change that resulted in, for instance, last month’s pre-Christmas devastating flood waters in the Eastern Caribbean, including host country for the coming CARICOM meeting, as well as the serious climbing threat to citizens’ security posed by rampant criminality – are among the bundle of major issues identified for the work agenda.
Host Prime Minister and new Community chairman for the next six months, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who has taken over from his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Kamla Persad Bissessar, is quite conscious of the looming challenges and was candid in observing:
 “St Vincent and the Grenadines will be hosting the meeting in admittedly difficult national circumstances and in a regional and international context fraught with economic uncertainty, existential threats arising from climate change, multiple exogenous challenges and home-grown regional burdens …”
  Facing, as he is, the current challenge of presiding over an economy in crisis and with growth forecast at less than one per cent in 2014, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, could readily empathize with Dr Gonsalves’ assessment.
So too, would be Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar whose country, hailed last month by the World Bank as “one of the wealthiest and well developed nations in the  Caribbean region” is staggering from climbing murder rates with at least 23 killings already for this month.  
Yet, for all the social and economic challenges facing regional governments and institutions, Prime Minister Gonsalves is of the view that there are two issues that the CARICOM leaders “cannot reasonably avoid for focused attention”. These he has identified as the quest for reparations for native genocide and African slavery”.   
Further, he feels that this first half-yearly meeting of the Community’s leaders must be prepared to demonstrate firm commitment to fulfilling a decision of the CARICOM Bureau to hold the line against doing business as normal with the Dominican Republic.
Unless, that is, the government in Santo Domingo commits itself to a reversal of the recently enacted immigration law that has effectively denationalized thousands – over 230,000 – of immigrants of Haitian descent who were born and have been living there all their lives.
Another sensitive issue requiring priority attention would be to overcome the recurring problem of implementation of what’s known as  “Community law” governing intra-regional freedom of movement of CARICOM nationals. It is an issue that would undoubtedly reference the landmark decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice in the case involving Barbados and the Jamaican national, Shanique Myrie.
•? Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email


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