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Region hoping for positive action from Caricom Summit on Dominican Republic situation

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CARICOM leaders are currently meeting for their annual Summit, this year being hosted by the government of Barbados. The mid-year Summit was originally organized to coincide with what was declared as “Caricom Day” to be commemorated on the first Monday in July. It was also supposed to be a public holiday throughout the Caricom territories, but few member states stick to this commitment. It is a holiday in SVG but for Carnival Monday, very few persons remember Caricom at this time.{{more}}

This immediately brings into question the matter of how seriously we take the regional integration movement for this supposed holiday would have been the only one that we, as Caribbean people, have declared for ourselves, collectively. We share some other public holidays but these are not of our own doing, being externally influenced.

Our weaknesses in such simple matters help to feed the anti-Caricom sentiments from some in our midst who seem to be more concerned about the welfare of non-Caricom nations and economic groupings than about our own processes. Undoubtedly we have failings, but so do many others. These cannot be arguments against strengthening and furthering the regional integration movement but should spur us to become more serious and focused in our efforts.

As usual the Summit agenda is crowded, perhaps affecting negatively the outcome of such meetings. That however, is not unique to Caricom as major international summits are similarly burdened. The theme of the Summit: “Vibrant Societies, Resilient Economies,” speaks for itself as to the priorities for the region in the extremely difficult international economic climate. Every one of the Caricom states is faced with serious economic challenges.

It is therefore more than useful to have the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon in attendance at the Summit to get a first-hand understanding of Caribbean realities. This is especially important in that in the remaining months of this year, three major international conferences will be held under the auspices of the UN.

Later this month, there will be the 3rd International Convention on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa, which, as the name implies, has great bearing on sources, quantity and conditions for development financing for Caricom states among others. Two months later there will be the UN Summit on Post-2015 Development in New York. The year will conclude with a critical meeting of great relevance to the vulnerable Caribbean; the Framework Convention on Climate Change, slated for Paris in December.

The interaction between the region’s leaders and the UN Head will be more than useful for advancing the understanding of the region’s priorities. But there are also geo-political and social issues to be discussed with Mr Ban Ki Moon. The age-old threat of territorial disputes, involving Guyana and Venezuela, and also Guatemala and Belize are down for discussion. Venezuela has recently increased the tension by declaring the Atlantic coast of Guyana where oil deposits have been found to be its territory and Guatemala has never renounced its claim to Belizean territory. Caricom will surely seek the intervention and support of the UN in a peaceful resolution of these issues.

Finally, the people of the Caribbean are looking forward to positive action from Caricom in dealing with the discriminatory actions by the government of the Dominican Republic, itself seeking closer relations with Caricom, against Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent currently facing mass deportation. Such actions are unacceptable and Caricom will be required to be very firm in its stance on the matter. No less is expected.

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