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GEORGETOWN, Guyana – CARICOM chair Desiré Delano Bouterse, President of Suriname, has called for a new beginning to the regional movement.

Delivering an address on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the 23rd Inter-sessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government, Bouterse said CARICOM was at a rare historical moment “when we are called upon to make new beginnings”.

The two day meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname opened with speeches by Bouterse, immediate past chair, the Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and the Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque. During the opening ceremony a website for the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors was launched by the chair and the Secretary-General with the assistance of a youth ambassador of Suriname Raynel Fraser.

Bouterse said the region should undertake with renewed vigour this new beginning. “We must not only take account of our failures, but permit new energy to infuse our possibilities,” he added.

He advised that “we should welcome our peoples’ conviction that their lives can be made better within the Region, and not force our talent to migrate beyond.” He pointed out that the issue of free movement had “the possibility of raising the fears of our citizens who, as they often say, “born right yeh – it belong to us.”

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But he argued that Caribbean resourcefulness had enriched many a developed country. “Why, then, do we have doubts that we can enrich each other’s societies?” he asked.

Bouterse argued that the obstacles hindering CARICOM people were not of their making. He urged his colleagues that they must not merely commit to paper rights but be bold enough to find new ways of working together and nurture interdependence to cut the ties of dependency. The President said that the Region to make self-sufficiency the cornerstone of regional development.

“We have no reason to be poor. Look at what we have amongst us: oil, gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, forests, sea, sun, sugar, rice, spice, coffee, water, and so much more. Add that to our labour force; liberate our intellectuals and artists to dream big dreams; support our own businesses through the creation of multi-national Caribbean entities with public shareholding, and simplify the rules of engagement at all levels. Then we can do much, much more than survive. We can flourish,” he said.

Bouterse said his government believed that the involvement of children in the integration process at an early age, contributed to the strength and the very survival of CARICOM. He said it was through the experience of integration that pride in the region would mature.

“CARICOM integration, the full realization of the Treaty of Chaguaramas must not be about paper —agreements and protocols—it must live. And it must live most vibrantly in our sons and daughters,” he said.

(CARICOM Press Release)

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