Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says he hopes that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a successful presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
He, however, said that participation in these blocs should bring political or economic benefit to the country.
SVG has become the first CARICOM nation to hold the pro tempore presidency of CELAC and the opposition leader said on his party’s radio programme this week that with the pro tempore presidency, the country’s name “is out there”.
He said the country has to ensure that whatever benefits are derived from the pro tempore presidency is “for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines; not as some badge to pin on the chest of any single person”.
“The country is represented by the head of government and we expect and pray that the term will be successful and that we will achieve benefit from it as political and economic benefit.”
He said that is the only reason for SVG to participate in these organisations and at various levels.
“OECS, similarly. We’re supposed to have an OECS single market and economy which is intended to create better economic opportunities for our people so that they can expand and grow and the wealth in the region will increase.”
He noted that CARICOM is a larger body that includes OECS members.
“You have CARIFORUM, which includes CARICOM and the Dominican Republic. Then, of course, you have CELAC, you have the OAS, you have other large organisations. St. Vincent and the Grenadines participates in this organisation, plays its role on the world stage in these organisations to advance our interests and benefits.
“And that is what I expect to see. And that is what I hope for as somebody who looks forward first and foremost in the best interest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, we will monitor that, we will look and see. And as I say, for the benefit of our country, we hope that it is derived economic and political benefit.”
Friday noted that CELAC is “a fairly new organisation”, which was founded in 2011 and had its origin “in the leftist counterweight to the US”.
He noted that CELAC is a large organisation of 33 countries all over Latin America and the Caribbean and that Brazil re-joined the group this year, after four years absence.
Friday further pointed out that all CARICOM countries, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, are members of CELAC, whose objective is to increase cooperation and to enhance economic activity amongst the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The opposition leader said the constitution of his New Democratic Party welcomes initiatives in the region and further afield to pursue multilateralism, adding that for “a weak country, a small country like ours, that is really where our protection lies — we can’t go head-to-head with individual major countries.
“So, we seek to extend our influence through participation in multilateral organisations,” he said, noting SVG’s membership in OECS and CARICOM, OAS and the United Nations.
Friday said that CELAC “has its divisions, they’re trying to find their feet as to how they are going to accomplish their lofty objectives and where there are so many differences…”