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50th anniversary opportune for celebration, renewal, enriching legacy

50th anniversary opportune for celebration, renewal, enriching legacy
‘Sing of your Caribbean pride’ – Bahamian singer, Wendi (in white) performing the CARICOM Song at the opening of the 44th ARICOM heads of Government Conference in The Bahamas

As CARICOM Heads of Government reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Community this year, they are of the view that it was a fitting opportunity to celebrate, renew, look forward and enrich regional integration.

CARICOM was established on 4 July 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas by Founding Fathers,  Prime Ministers Errol Barrow for Barbados; Forbes Burnham for Guyana; Michael Manley for Jamaica; and Dr. Eric Williams for Trinidad and Tobago.

During their 44th Regular Meeting which concludes on Friday in The Bahamas, the Heads of Government will be updated on plans to celebrate the anniversary.

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Hon Philip Davis, who is Chair of the Conference, describes the anniversary as a “golden opportunity”.

“In celebrating the institutions and achievements of these five decades, the many peoples of our region should look back and rightly feel a sense of pride in all that has been gained, and the value added to the region.

“But it also presents an occasion to look forward, to seize the opportunity to collaborate, to co-operate, and, through our collective effort, build a stronger, more resilient, and more prosperous region,” Prime Minister Davis said.

He pointed out that, as it did in 1973, the Region now faces a host of opportunities and challenges and it should take full advantage of the “opportunities of our time” to implement solutions to the challenges.

He said the Community’s pillars have borne fruit in good times and bad.

“Our commitment to ‘functional co-operation’ has been powerfully expressed in education, health, and culture. Our co-ordination in foreign policy matters has strengthened and amplified our voice in global affairs, and given us greater influence over the outcome of international debate. And, as near neighbours, our collaborative efforts to enhance our mutual security, and, for some, to advance economic integration, has united us in common cause to promote national and regional development. Our shared history, steeped in triumph and struggle, is testament to our resilience and determination,” Prime Minister Davis said.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, who spoke at the opening, also referred to strengthening of functional cooperation and improving Community Organs.

 

Outgoing Chair of the Conference, His Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of Suriname, reminded the audience at the opening that the vision and goals of the Founding Fathers were geared at using the Region’s resources to satisfy its needs and to compete internationally.

“Over the years, the Region has taken significant steps, in creating a solid integration movement.

“The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which provided, among other things, for enhanced cooperation among Member States, bears testimony, to our resolve, to work collaboratively, towards one goal – sustainable development of the Region,” President Santokhi said.

In her remarks at the opening, CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, referred to the landmark anniversary, development gains and challenges.

“This is the year when we commemorate the vision created, the courage had, and the legacy left by those who went before us. It is the year when we renew our commitment to the Community and enrich this unique legacy for those who will follow us. This Meeting provides us with an opportunity to make long-lasting decisions for our peoples for the next 50 years and beyond,” Dr. Barnett said.