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PM hails cooperation among southern nations

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has hailed cooperation among nations in the southern hemisphere.{{more}}

“… our developmental and political partnerships increasingly reflect a spirit of strengthened regional integration and greater South-South cooperation,” he told the United Nations on Friday.

Gonsalves said that in the immediate post-colonial phase of their development, Caribbean and Latin America nations “oftentimes had stronger and closer relationships with distant colonial powers and developed nations than we did with the countries in our immediate neighbourhood.

“After centuries of colonial conquest, settlement, contest and exploitation, our deepening bonds of friendship, cooperation and integration within the Caribbean and Latin America are a fundamental manifestation of our States’ growing independence and political maturity,” he said.

He noted St Vincent and the Grenadines’ membership in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, CARIFORUM, the Association of Caribbean States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

He said these regional blocs are “also home-grown manifestations of our peoples’ desire to forge linkages and partnerships with our regional brothers and sisters.

“The strength and genuine cohesion of these growing regional integration initiatives is built on a solid foundation of shared experiences and common values.”

Gonsalves hailed the OECS and CARICOM as “bastions of good governance, democracy and the rule of law”. He said the two Caribbean bodies “share those experiences and aspirations with our South and Central American sister states”.

The South and Central American nations, Gonsalves said, “have also established unshakable foundations of democracy and good governance after fitful periods of political unrest and foreign interference in the past”.

He said the presidential elections in Venezuela on October 7 “is but one example of the manner in which that country and the region continue to institutionalize popular, participatory democratic systems that reflect and respect the will of the people”.

But Gonsalves said while Caribbean nations strengthen linkages with their immediate neighbours, they “remain deeply committed to our historical ties and traditional friendships.

“The bonds that we share with our friends in Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are as strong as they are mutually beneficial.

“As a multi-island nation, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines have always been highly migratory and outward-looking — so much so that even the words of our national anthem memorialize our proclivity for travel to distant lands,” he said.

Gonsalves further told the world body that many of the largest and most vibrant cities of Vincentians exist not in SVG, but in major metropolises, including Brooklyn, Toronto, and London.

“Those productive and hardworking enclaves, and many others, have immeasurably enriched their adopted homes and provided needed remittances to relatives in the land of their birth,” he said, adding that SVG is grateful to friendly states that have “opened their doors and embrace our migrants, and view the ongoing, hassle-free movement of our peoples back and forth as the truest testament of our friendship and solidarity”. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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