The Thirty-third Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community got underway on Wednesday July 4th at the Sandals Grande in St Lucia. St Lucia is playing host to the three-day event as Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony assumes the Chairmanship of Conference of Heads Government for the next six months. Outgoing Chairman, H.E. Desire Delano Bouterse in his remarks gave a brief account of his stewardship and thanked the member countries of CARICOM for their “immeasurable support” over the last six months. He also took some time to wish Dr Anthony much success in his tenure as Chair.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Irwin LaRoucque, Secretary General of CARICOM urged the heads to grant Dr Anthony much support as they journey ahead in making decisions to better the lives of the Caribbean people. He further stated that there should be more regional integration within CARICOM. Despite the rumors of impotency of the annual CARICOM meeting LaRoucque ended his remarks by assuring members that “CARICOM is not in crisis.”
Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica offered praise and congratulations to both Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica as they celebrate 50 years of political independence in 2012. She emphasized the need to bring the people into the heart of CARICOM and let them feel that the movement belongs to them. “CARICOM matters to our people in development, financing and job creation through education institutions such as CXC and UWI, in post disaster rehabilitation and health care. And yes, in West Indies Cricket!”
Miller spoke to the freedom of movement of the people of the region, urging the inclusion of security guards and home helpers on the list of skilled workers by 2015. She also focused on the trade imbalances that have become a distorting feature on the regional level. “At the CARICOM level it is necessary to recognize heroes and heroines as we are the beneficiaries of their sacrifices,” said Miller.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Dr Anthony offered a warm St Lucian welcome to President Martelly of Haiti, expressing in Kweyol CARICOM’s desire to work closely with Haiti as they embrace each other for the common good. He assured Martelly that CARICOM will work to bring relief to his people, given their struggles post the disastrous earthquake in 2010. The chairman also made reference to the financial troubles within Europe. “Europe,” he says, “will never be the same again.”
It is for this reason PM Anthony has suggested that terms and policies should be reviewed. Speaking of the loyalty of the Caribbean region, Dr Anthony urged the CARICOM leaders to avoid being naïve. The recurring problems being addressed at the CARICOM meetings he says should be solved and will be addressed as the heads meet here in St Lucia. The new Chairman also indicated that he has included in his mandate a whole day for discussions between heads as they decide the way forward for CARICOM.