The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is now being led by its first ever woman Secretary General. To complement the historical move is the fact that the woman is a Belizean professional who has worked in the financial and public sectors. Dr Carla Barnett departed Belize on Saturday, August 14 to take up her role as the new SecGen. We join News Director, Renee Trujillo for a snapshot of this morning’s virtual ceremony.
Renee Trujillo, Love News: The Caribbean Community, CARICOM, saw its eight secretary general installed on Monday August 16 in the name of Dr.Carla Natalie Barnett. The 63 year old official has made history as being the first woman and the first Belizean to hold the chair. The official induction was administered by CARICOM’s Chairman Gaston Brown, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
Hon. Gaston Brown, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda: “Today’s installation ceremony represents the spirit of continuity of the leadership of our community and the passing of the baton to new hands. In her previous years as Assistant Secretary General obviously places you in an ideal position to hit the ground running. As the first female CARICOM Secretary General I know that you will succeed in demonstrating to the world that talent resides in both sexes equally and that the leadership of our regional institutions is open to those talented sons and daughters who bring the requisite skills to the table. As I welcome you to the position of CARICOM Secretary General I must also acknowledge the sterling contribution of your immediate predecessor Ambassador Irwin LaRocque of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Irwin’s unflappable* spirit and quiet tenacity served us well especially most recently in these COVID times when some decision makers succumbed to panic and indecision. I know it in passing that both Ambassador LaRocque and you Excellency are from member states Dominica and Belize respectively and that citizens of these states have never before held a position of Secretary General. So again I extend congratulations.“
Renee Trujillo, Love News: Dr.Barnett who served Belize as a government minister, Senator, and ambassador accepted her new position with a nine minute address where she spoke of her plans ahead including a relationship with the media in the Caribbean.
Dr.Carla Barnett, Secretary General, CARICOM: “We will invite community stakeholders in all sectors including the media to reach out to the secretariat letting us know their fears, their concerns, their vision for the future of the community and telling us how they feel they can contribute to continue the building of our community. This must be our mantra as we seek to build a truly integrated, inclusive and resilient community that is driven by knowledge, excellence, innovation and productivity where every citizen is secure with guaranteed human rights and social justice and contributes to and shares in its economic, social and cultural prosperity. A community which is unified and competitive in the global arena. This is the vision stated in the community’s 2015/2019 strategic plan and it is one that continues to be very relevant.”
Renee Trujillo, Love News: Dr.Barnett takes over from Ambassador Irwin LaRocque of Dominica. LaRocque who is an economist by profession served as CARICOM’s Secretary General from 2011 to 2021.
Dr Barnett was elected unanimously by the CARICOM Heads of Government in a special virtual session back in May 2021. Doctor Barnett has been celebrated many times before including when she was appointed as the time when she was named the first woman Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, and again in 1997 when she took the post as the first woman Deputy Secretary General of CARICOM, and again in 2004 when she was the first woman to be appointed as the Financial Secretary in Belize.