St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon Ralph Gonsalves, struck an optimistic note on Monday and said there was much to celebrate and many opportunities for the Caribbean in a changing world.
In remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the Thirty-Seventh Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown, Guyana, the Prime Minister warned the 43-year-old Community not to don “sack cloth and ashes and denounce our immense achievements over the last decades.”
Prime Minister Gonsalves noted a certain “sense of pessimism – a species of learned helplessness” enveloping the Region, which the Community must guard against.
He opined that the authors of those opinions did not point out the progress made in integration, and did not take into account the Region’s strengths and possibilities and what were the objectives of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The Caribbean Community is not a federation, nor is it a unitary state. It is not even a confederation”, he said, and added, “ it is a community of independent sovereign states”. He noted that the “only supranational entity created by CARICOM – is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)”.
He said that the Caribbean was a functional civilisation in which there was no failed state. It was a place of modern sophisticated countries; it was a seminal political configuration so those blessings and mercies should be acknowledged. He pointed out that CARICOM had reduced poverty in the Region; that the rights to establish business across borders existed; and that housing was more improved than fifty years ago.
In responding to what he termed the “hysteria” of BREXIT, he saw opportunities for a fast-tracking of the Caribbean Single Market. The whole world was facing some of the problems that we are reaching to them to assist with, so we have to go with the “right configuration”, he said.
Rather than look at the politicians for miracles when we go to work, we must produce – work harder and smarter,” Prime Minister Gonsalves entreated the Community.
He identified a list of issues which CARICOM should also pay attention to, including resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation, the Region’s ageing population and the way in which technology would change our lives.