The fourth CARICOM-SICA Summit got underway this morning in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The event saw Central American leaders join their CARICOM counterparts on the island as Belize hosted the summit. The event has wrapped up after a full day of closed-door meetings. Senior Reporter, Hipolito Novelo is on the island and filed the following report.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Belize’s Prime Minister, John Briceño and Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei exchanging words just before leaders from both regions prepared to take this picture. But before that, friendly talks, hands shaking and laughing among leaders who came from Central America and the Caribbean putting a united front for the 4th CARICOM-SICA Summit. These moments, captured more than a decade later when the 3rd CARICOM-SICA Summit was held in El Salvador. Back then leaders of that time committed to strengthen cooperation and engagement.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, Chairman, CARICOM: “The fact is, our efforts have been less than satisfactory considering the common plight we face and the many opportunities for collaboration which we missed.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister John Briceño told leaders and delegates that this must now change. With global events continuing to have ripple effects, moving forward with synchronisation and strategy from both regions are important.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, Chairman, CARICOM: “Our partnership, therefore, must be strategic. It must deliver more for the peoples of our shared neighbourhood. As nations, we are clawing our way back from a severe economic downturn, occasioned by a devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic exposed the fragility of the development gains many of our countries have made.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Which is why the Declaration of San Pedro is consequential and, with Belize taking the charge, is strategic.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, Chairman, CARICOM: “Our dual membership has allowed us a unique vantage point from which we see two groups of developing countries coexisting in the middle of the Americas. We know that CARICOM and SICA both share an abiding aspiration to achieve their sustainable development. We know that countries of both subregions share a steadfast commitment to multilateralism. We know that countries of both regions are dedicated to democratic governance, to the rule of law and respect for human rights. We know also that both regions are facing similar challenges which threaten to retard our development. Challenges such as human insecurity, climate change mitigation and the COVID-19 pandemic are common throughout both CARICOM and Central American nations and we also know that both regions depend heavily on the multilateral system to deliver effective coordination and responses to the global challenges which are having impacts on our subregions.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: And the time to act is now. The time for closer unifications of both regions is now.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, Chairman, CARICOM: “Without question, the case for a closer partnership between CARICOM and SICA is compelling and urgent but achieving a functional partnership has so far eluded us. We’re equally aware that we live in a neighbourhood that is subject to tremendous influence in an era of heightened geopolitical competition. Our shared historical experience teaches us that such geopolitical competition can yet divide us and undermine our development. This must not be allowed to happen.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: The CARICOM-SICA Plan of Action was revised because any further delays of interregional cooperation would be a regrettable mistake.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, Chairman, CARICOM: “The possibilities for intraregional trade are clear. The opportunities for cross-regional investments are obvious. For sure, if we want it to be so, a common future awaits us. Let’s grasp it now. Today.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Reporting for Love News, Hippolito Novelo.