Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres will attend the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on March 1, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.
“The secretary general of the United Nations has already indicated that he is coming,” said Gonsalves, whose pro tempore presidency of the hemispheric grouping expired in January, but will preside over the summit on March 1.
“I think it is the first time that Antonio Guterres or any secretary general for that matter of the United Nations is coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines before or after independence,” he further said on Wednesday on NBC Radio.
“And there are other people we have invited from the US, from Europe, from Africa, from India, from the ASEAN countries — Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” he said.
The prime minister was at the time reporting on his visit on Tuesday to the construction site of Sandals Beaches Resort in Buccament Bay, which will host the one-day summit ahead of its official opening on March 27.
Gonsalves was accompanied on the visit by faculty and students from the tourism and hospitality-related programmes at the Community College.
“And they quite enjoyed it,” he said, adding that the first question he had for Terence Des Vignes, project manager at Sandals Resorts, was “Are you going to be ready for the CELAC summit [with delegates] arriving on the 29th [of February] and also for March 1?”
“He said, ‘I’ll deliver it to you on the 28th of February so they can start to come in on the 28th’,” the prime minister said.
“They are working around the clock because Sandals sees this event — just think about it: You are having 33 heads of states and governments or if all 33 ain’t come, they will be represented by a very high level. Most of the heads, I have been advised, are coming. But you know, sometimes, there may be a local difficulty why the head can’t come…” the prime minister said.
“So it is going to be quite an event and imagine Sandals opening with the 33 nations of CELAC. That is 650 million people. Then you are having representatives coming from Europe, from Africa,” Gonsalves said, adding that he had not heard as yet who would represent India at the event.
“But, this thing is going to be beamed worldwide. And this is something which Sandals, the publicity, they have a splendid public relations machinery. You imagine what they are going to do with this. And for us, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for people, you are driving in, you see the 33 flags, Sandals own at the reception area and as you watch through the open space with the swimming pools, the jacuzzi, the place lined with palms and thing and you see how this well laid out in this beautiful valley and you watch straight ahead of you, you seeing the allure of the Caribbean Sea,” the prime minister said.
“I mean, people normally talk about putting St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the map. We are on the map already but you know the expression, moving further, lifting it higher and higher,” he said.