Grenada will continue its historically prominent role at the forefront of regional integration when it hosts the 38th Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government from 4 – 6 July, at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. An Opening Ceremony, on 4 July, will be held at the Grenada Trade Centre.
Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, will chair the Meeting. Dr. Mitchell, on 1 July 2017, assumed the six-month rotating Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), succeeding the President of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger.
In the build-up to this meeting, we flash back through Grenada’s milestones as a champion of closer integration among the territories of the Region.
T.A. Marryshow, Father of Integration and his Proteges
Theophilus Albert Marryshow, a Grenadian in whose honour the T. A. Marryshow Community College’s was established, was among the earliest proponents of Caribbean integration. Biographical notes of his era, 1887 – 1958, record relentless efforts, spawning more than fifty years, for closer union among West Indian states, realised in the West Indian Federation. Due to his untiring efforts for West Indian unity, his biography records that he was given the title ‘Father of Federation’. Marryshow died in 1958, shortly after the Federation was formed.
Three years after the demise of the Federation, the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and British Guiana, in giving birth to the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) in the Dickenson Bay Agreement, sought to define the ideals that Marryshow earnestly fought to see – reducing gaps in the living standards in the West Indian countries.
CARIFTA came into being in May 1968, with the participation of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. On 1 August, 1968, Grenada along with Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and St. Vincent and the Grenadines entered formally and in May 1971, British Honduras (Belize) joined. CARIFTA’s progeny, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), established through the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973, has further embraced multi-lingual, multi-cultural diversity into the integration movement, with membership of Dutch-speaking Suriname and French-speaking Haiti.
A Grenadian CARICOM Secretary-General
Grenada-born Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre, a highly celebrated West Indian academic and intellectual and one of the great social thinkers of his time, served as Secretary-General of CARICOM from 1974 – 1977. Sir Alister took on the mantle of leadership a year after the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which established CARICOM. He took over from Trinidadian Sir William Demas who oversaw the regional integration movement from 1970 – 1974. Before Sir William was Barbadian Fred Lloyd Cozier from 1968 – 1969.
Following in Sir Alister’s footsteps were Mr. Joseph Tyndall of Guyana (1977-1978); Dr. Kurleigh King of Barbados (1979-1983); Mr. Roderick Rainford of Jamaica (1983 – 1992); Sir Edwin Carrington of Trinidad and Tobago (1992 – 2010) Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite of Barbados (acted in 2011) and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque of Dominica (2011 – present).
Order of the Caribbean Community
Sir Alister was awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community, OCC, in 1994. CARICOM’s highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community recognises Caribbean nationals whose legacy in the economic, political, social and cultural development of Caribbean society is phenomenal. Among his many accomplishments, Sir Alister was able to position the Caribbean Region on the world scene and made a significant impact on the international arena through the many high level posts he held in various United Nations organisations and in a consultative capacity to Regional and International Financial Institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.