I take great pleasure in extending greetings to the honorable heads of governments and other dignitaries assembled. I also greet Kaikom officials and everyone else. I want to first express heartfelt thanks to Almighty God for preserving me. Throughout the past 50 years, my life has gone through many twists and turns, and I believe that I am still here because of God’s direct intervention.
I will always be eternally grateful to him.
Let me now say up front that I am sincerely thankful and appreciative for this moment. To the Secretary General of CARICOM and her staff, say it is a great honor that you have afforded me the opportunity to participate in the 50th anniversary versus. Celebrations, I say thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, from the bottom of my heart.
50 years is a long time in the experience of all of us at the age of 92. I do not claim to remember accurately the details of what transpired back then, but there are a few things which I can broadly recall. All, I think, that I can say definitively that finalizing the treaty signed in 1973 and which I had the privilege of signing on behalf of Montserrat in 1974, was a very, very challenging exercise.
It was not easy.
It was a daunting task to come. The needs of territories which differed so widely in size, population and levels of economic development. Ministers were. At all times conscious that decisions taken would have consequences for their people in the future.
There was, therefore some understandable caution.
I think the process benefited from several factors which came together to produce an acceptable outcome. Among these was the fact that belief in the end and objectives together with commitment and determination that they be achieved was almost universal among heads of governments. Along with this, the leaders shared goodwill and the modicum of camaraderie.
Also most important was the invaluable support and guidance provided by a cadre of capable, highly motivated and hardworking public servants who worked tirelessly. There were occasions when Secretariat staff and. Civil servants from island delegations worked through the night. They stretched their intellect to the maximum in effort to provide ministers with workable ideas and options for resolving some difficult issues.
The contribution of those public servants should always be remembered. I believe that the fact that the community has intact for 50 years might suggest that those who have the vision, those who planned the project, as well as those who signed the treaty, may have got at least some things right.
The longevity of the community is also a tribute to the leaders and public servants including those currently in office who have carried forward the mantle over the past fifty years. To them I extend congratulations and to those now on the job, est wishes as you continue to serve your people. The international community continues to be a jungle not very friendly to small states like the CARICOM territories. The survival of our unique way of life may face some more severe threats and come under some Hedin to unforeseen stresses and pressures. Nonetheless,
I personally have unhindered belief in the resilience of our people and their will to defend and maintain their treasured ways of life . I believe the ca for regional collaboration and cooperation is stronger now than fifty years ago. I urge our governments and peoples their pursuit of excellence in every activity and at all levels of society. It is my hope that this striving for excellence will proceed at a pace not les than a rate that other progressive countries are advancing.
Again I say I am profoundly grateful of the honour to be able to participate in this fashion. I have treasured memories of the outstanding Caribbean statesmen with whom I worked . I am saddened that they all have passed. But I repeat I am extremely grateful to almighty god for the precious blessing of long life . I wish everyone involved in the celebrations an enjoyable and happy experience. I wish the head of government and other ministers of government and officials productive and rewarding deliberations and gods richest blessings to all. Thanky ou.