Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, has begun his six-month revolving chairmanship of CARICOM. (iWN file photo)

As he took up his six-month stint as chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that the 15-member regional block – which is often maligned as inefficient and irrelevant – is central to the survival of its people.

 “The inequalities and harsh encumbrances in the global political economy, the existential threat of climate change to our region, and the explosion of pandemics have made it pellucid, as never before, that our Caribbean Community is central to our people’s salvation on this our Earthly City,” Gonsalves said as he took over the chairmanship from Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.

He said that in the early days of COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley, “perhaps with only a touch of hyperbole, affirmed that ‘CARICOM is the antidote to COVID-19’,” Gonsalves said.

He described as “heroic” the contribution of several CARICOM agencies, including the  Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), and Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and the Regional Security System during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that their work is testimony of his view of CARICOM.

Gonsalves said that immediately on the CARICOM agenda continues to be the challenge of COVID-19 and its four interconnected dimensions of health, the economy, society, and security.

The agenda also includes the coordination of the delivery of a sufficiency of regional air transport in quality, affordability, safety, and sustainability, the prime minister said.

He was speaking less than one week after four CARICOM nations, including his own St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are the majority shareholder of LIAT, the main regional carrier, decided to liquidate the airline.

Antigua and Barbuda did not attend Friday’s virtual conference even as Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed dissatisfaction with his colleague’s handling of the LIAT matter and has said that St. John’s is prepared to lead the way in funding a new LIAT.

The other major LIAT shareholders are Barbados and Dominica.

Gonsalves further said that the CARICOM agenda over the next six months will include the socio-economic recovery of the region; the strengthening of the region’s resilience against multiple vulnerabilities; the building of a better, more equal, more inclusive global order in full recognition of a properly articulated “small state exceptionalism”; and the further upliftment of the Caribbean civilization “in every material particular within our region and in our interface with others in our hemisphere, the developing world, the major economies and global institutions”.

“These large strategic issues, and more, confront us,” the prime minister said, adding, that so, too, are those touching and concerning the internal arrangements of CARICOM itself. 

“The policy responses are available and have been well-researched. Like the esteemed Issachar, one of the leaders of the historic 12 tribes of Israel, we must know the times and act accordingly,” he said. 

He said CARICOM heads  “must remain calm and patient, knowing always that sun brightens stone; we must not panic or be consumed by excessive fear or hysteria; we ought to stand askance from useless recriminations. 

“We know ourselves as a people, and our immense possibilities, despite our limitations. We know that there is much more that we can achieve together without rancour or bitterness, even in the midst of dissonances and contradictions. 

 “Our people expect us, metaphorically, to make whole sons and whole daughters out of the compromises which history and our extant circumstances have made us.  In this understanding, we come home to ourselves and our people, for their upliftment. 

“Let us build further upon our solid accomplishments in this our remarkable region and magnificent Caribbean civilization. It is a great cause; and great causes have never been won by doubtful men and women,” Gonsalves said.

5 replies on “CARICOM ‘central to our people’s salvation on this our earthly city’”

  1. One have listened to that distinguished Economist Dr George B. N. Ayittey on “How Socialism Destroyed Africa” noted at https://www.iwnsvg.com/2020/07/01/more-economic-hardship-ahead-without-liat-leacock/ Africans, are like us here in the Caribbean they are saddled too, with their share of charlatans and family dictators and have lost out in a world of great recent prosperity.

    Like the Caribbean, many African dictators have grossly failed to deliver economic development to their people despite the vast mineral wealth which their nations contain.

    Their peoples too like the Caribbean since the “second world war”, have had to endure years of poverty. Poverty brought on through ideological misrule as is seen in Venezuela and like exploitation. Dr George B. N. Ayittey and others puts it all down to that tendency towards Socialism. A dogma that has miserably failed. https://fee.org/articles/why-socialism-failed/

    Though it may not be appreciated here yet because so many Vincentians are so grossly poorly educated. What we sure need, is a detail exposé of how the ruling Gonsalves family regime have dragged Vincentians back to being like the plantation fodder of old, putting Vincentians against Vincentians, even though they and their lives are so far removed from the vast majority of us.

    Indeed what none here in SVG has yet penned, is how the ULP and it dictatorship have impoverished St Vincent and the Grenadines while mouthing a dogma that appeals to a people that have nothing.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    CARICOM, the most irrelevant, fractious, and dysfunctional multinational organization in the world, continues to portray its own citizens as the hopeless and helpless victims of a system of slavery that ended 182 years ago, nine generations in the past, with its greedy ongoing attempt to beg for reparations from our former colonial masters blinding our people to the fact that the same colonial power, Great Britain, also introduced slavery to American in 1619, a country which now contains the wealthiest, most productive, and best educated Black people the world has ever seen.

  3. CARICOM has been a failure from day one. No pun intended, but the leaders and some islands behave in an insular fashion. There is very little that bring that bring the people together. Banana was probably the only ingredient that once brought the Windward Islands together. The entire Caribbean is divides: The Windward, the Leeward Islands, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica.
    One of the biggest problem is the big brother attitude which have larger and more industrial islands want to control the smaller islands. A typical example is UWI. There should be camps and instructions setup in the other islands. Students should be able to attend classes in their home island, instead of going to Jamaica, T&T and Barbados.
    Can anyone point to something – anything that the previous leaders of CARICOM accomplished to benefit the people in the islands? I am waiting!

  4. Ben- David you have me totally losted. Do you really mean what you wrote.if you do you should be ashame of yourself. I say no more.

    1. Unfortunately poppa bear, Mr Ben is correct in his assertions. Are you really so dim that you think otherwise.

      Reparations are owed by most of the African nations. You cannot ask the Europeans for reparations until the Africans cough up.

      Asking the white nations and not the black nations for reparations is racist.

      But you will get nothing from the African because they many are back into slavery again in Africa. If the slave trade was still ongoing they would still be selling Africans to whoever would buy them.

      Some of the chiefs and kings have admitted the guilt of their ancestors. Read what they said.

      https://www.ieyenews.com/opinion-really-hilary/

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