Caricom SG says last four months exceptional for region

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Caricom SG says last four months exceptional for region

Saturday, July 04, 2020

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said yesterday that the past four months have proven to be the “most exceptional periods” for the 15-member regional integration movement.

Addressing the 20th special meeting of Caricom leaders that was held virtually, LaRocque said the region has had to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, the economic fallout arising from it, and the electoral crisis in Guyana.

“In addition, while most member states continue to be denied access to concessional financing in our critical time of need, so-called friendly countries continue to blacklist some of us, thereby exacerbating an already difficult situation,” he said.

LaRocque said that the Caribbean has “done fairly well to contain the virus” and that protocols have been developed by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), and the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat, both for managing the virus and reopening of the borders of regional countries.

Caribbean countries are now in the process of reopening their borders, having shut them down since March to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed more than 150 people in the Caribbean and in the case of Haiti, for example, infected more than 6,000 people.

LaRocque said that the protocols have “served as guidance to our member states in their efforts to overcome the challenges.

Regarding the elections in Guyana, where the official results of the March 2 regional and general polls are still being awaited, LaRocque said Caricom has “been grappling with the ongoing electoral crisis in Guyana, as we sought to maintain the reputation of the community as a bastion of democracy”.

He recalled the visit of the five regional leaders to Georgetown “by invitation, to hold talks with the political leadership”, adding “Caricom's involvement in the situation in Guyana has always been by invitation.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the independent Caricom observer team to the recount of the Guyana general and regional elections, for their personal sacrifice to answer the call to service. The team was in Guyana, by invitation, and willingly spent 46 days during the pandemic. I have every confidence in the work they have produced.”

In his address, the secretary general praised the outgoing chair, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for her “astute and decisive leadership to our Community, even as you grappled with the severe problems faced by your own country”.

He said the incoming chair, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, is “admirably suited to lead the community at what will continue to be an exceptionally difficult time ahead.

“Prime Minister Gonsalves is the longest-serving member of the conference and will undoubtedly bring to bear all his experience, and considerable acumen, as he guides the community over the next six months.” LaRocque added.


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