While CARICOM has made strides; serious ones at that, Prime Minister Gaston Browne is of the strong belief that works remains to be done to improve the living standards and self-actualization among member states
Browne said in a statement to observe the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that heads of governments must also strengthen their commitment to achieving a robust, resilient, and sustainable integration movement
He praised the efforts of CARICOM over the past five decades, agreeing with many of his regional counterparts, that the body should not be divorced from its place in the continuum of the Caribbean striving for the betterment, upliftment, and development of the Caribbean region and its people
“The 50th anniversary of the creation of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is, by itself, a signal achievement for the Organization, its member states, and their peoples. However, while we celebrate this CARICOM milestone, we should recall that the establishment of the Organization was a further step along a journey of regional integration whose foundation was laid much earlier,” Browne said
He recalled that eight years before, at Dickenson Bay in Antigua, in 1965, three visionary leaders from Antigua, Barbados, and Guyana, joined together to rekindle a fire for regional togetherness from the still burning ashes of West Indian Federation, which collapsed three years before in 1962.
But even that 1962 collapse was not a rejection by the people of the Caribbean of the desire for integration and a closer union, Browne added
Indeed, he said, the intellectual underpinnings and instinctive desire for integration had permeated the thinking of Caribbean people as early as the 1930s, finding form and substance in 1947, when the Closer Union Committee and the Regional Economic Committee were founded to pursue joint independence from Britain and a single Caribbean nation.
“At every point, in our history, the salvation of our region’s disparate territories has always resided in the vision of an economically integrated area, devoid of borders and open to the people of Caribbean region and to their goods and services,” according to PM Browne
Furthermore, he said the purpose was – and remains – a region united and strong; a region reflective of the one identity of the Caribbean people; and a region that, in the expression of its creativity and innovation, is respected in the world.
“Along the way, events have occurred that deflected succeeding generations from achieving that ultimate goal of a perfect union. Thus, there have been stumbles and falls, but always there has been resurrection, reaffirmation and recommencement. We have built many institutions since 1947 – many have endured severe tests of insularity and tugs of nationality to stand as monuments to what Caribbean people can do when they act together”, he added
The Caribbean Community in its 50th year is a symbol for particular pride, but so too is the enduring University of the West Indies, according to the prime minister, who said “now with four landed campuses, providing high-quality education to our people; the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency which serves us all at times of disaster; the Caribbean Implementation Agency for Crime and Security that helps us collectively to curb organized crime; the Caribbean Court of Justice with its high quality of Jurisprudence, although some of our jurisdictions have yet to overcome the colonial mindset that they will not admit; and, yes, the West Indies Cricket Team which for decades, when other institutions faltered, continued to be a source of pride – a pride that can and must be restored”
Therefore, this 50th anniversary of CARICOM according to the Antiguan and Barbudan prime minister, should not be divorced from its place in the continuum of the Caribbean striving for the betterment, upliftment, and development of the Caribbean region and its people.
“CARICOM has been a vital vehicle for the deepening of Caribbean integration, and it must continue to be the chariot that we will ride to greater goals in regional transportation – by both air and sea- which are imperative for bonding our one Caribbean homeland,” he said
Adding, “It must also be the machinery by which we achieve food security; climate security; and the empowerment of all our people by tearing down the barriers to their growth and prosperity, through the creation of a Single Market and Economy”.