Belize’s Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington is heading a delegation to the 37th regular meeting of CARICOM Heads of Governmnt which is taking place in Georgetown, Guyana. While there, Minister Elrington was able to update journalists from the Miami Herald, Associated Press and the regional media, on the Belize Guatemala differences and also the derisking challenges Belize faces. During the session which began yesterday, Belize handed over the Chairman’s seat to the Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerritt who will serve as CARICOM’s Chairman for the remainder of 2016. In his presentation yesterday at the Pegasus Hotel, Skerritt spoke of the organization’s membership and the importance of addressing the BREXIT issue and its impact on the Caribbean.
“It is with a degree of conviction that we are on the right track and with optimism for the future that I assume Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community CARICOM. It is also at a time when the conference of heads of governments is being infused with new blood. In welcoming the most honorable Andrew Holness , Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Honorable Allen Chastanet Prime Minister of St.Lucia to the conference I note that in the last two years six of our 15 members of this conference are new to the table. I also welcome Dr.Keith Rowley Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago who while not attending his first meeting of the conference was elected after our meeting in July. This mix of experience and first perspectives in the leadership of our community could only be beneficial and will serve to rejuvenate our integration movement. I’m not sure if it is by pure coincidence or divine intervention but it so happens that I also take the chair of CARICOM at a time when the world is still in a state of shock at Britain’s decision to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership. At a time when the rest of the world is moving towards regional integration in order to carve out an economic space in the global marketplace and to balance the might of the emerging superpowers Britain has chosen to retreat to insular nationalism. Already the political, economic and social fallout from this decision to go it alone is causing considerable concern within Britain, Europe and the rest of the world. This conference gives us a wonderful opportunity to seriously consider the effect that Britain’s exit from the European Union will have on CARICOM and to demonstrate real leadership by showing the way forward.”
Also speaking on the BREXIT issue was Dr Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
DR RALPH GONSALVES
“What we do we often don’t think of ourselves. In the United Kingdom there is hysteria over Brexit so we have embraced the hysteria rather than say “This Brexit contained within it opportunities and we must look for them rather than to bemoan what has happened.” that is not going to get us anywhere. We have to accelerate our work in the single market and economy and in the process we have to remember that we cannot accelerate this process in a way where we remain on unequally yoked.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow served as the CARICOM Chair since January 2016. Heads met in caucus to discuss matters such as free movement and facilitation of travel within the community, citizenship by investment programmes, correspondent banking, border issues including Belize Guatemala relations, Guyana Venezuela relations as well relations with the Domincican Republic and regional security. The conference wil resume tomorrow in the plenary session and conclude late Wednesday with a press conference. A communique will be issued at the conclusion of the meetings.