Information Minister Melford Nicholas has described as important, useful, and frank, a high-level meeting between Heads of State and heads of Government of the Caribbean and the Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris
The gathering was held in Nassau Bahamas on Thursday. Nicholas represented Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
“We looked at the whole question of gun trafficking and I think that the prime ministers of Jamaica and Trinidad in particular did emphasize how debilitating gun trafficking is and that it is a facet of the same drug trade that each of the Caribbean territories have spent quite a bit of time over the last 20 years,” Nicholas said in an interview with State Media
The issue of food security was also on the agenda according to Nicholas. He said where that topic was concerned, Guyana led the discussions and that $35 million was pledged towards the food security regime that has been defined by Guyana.
Discussions were also held on what could be done to further assist impoverished Haiti, which was devastated just this week by days of serious flooding and an earthquake that killed several people and displaced thousands
“We had some very frank discussions on that as well. And I believe that some pending actions are going forward that will involve the United Nations. And of course, the whole question of climate change and what we have to do concerning security were also discussed. So overall, it’s very useful and I believe it followed several prior meetings that were held between the Caribbean and, of course, the Harris administration since they came into office” he said
The US Vice President he said also pledged to continue the level of engagement and the level of dialogue.
“So, in my humble opinion, it was a successful engagement and one that we can look forward to. One other issue that was mentioned as part of the commitment to the region was the opening of a US Embassy in the northeastern Caribbean. And while she did not name the locations, the fact that she says not Eastern Caribbean, portends some potential good news for Antigua… So, while I have not been given any firm indication as to whether or not Antigua would be one of the two countries, I humbly believe that we may be successful in that particular area,” Nicholas added
Meanwhile, leaders welcomed the announcement of increased resources to respond to the trafficking of firearms and gun crimes but they also brought to the fore their concerns at the continued increase in the illegal exportation of guns from the United States of America.
The leaders told Harris that the trafficking of firearms and gun crimes, contributes significantly to crime and violence in the Region, causing death and disabilities, and compromising safety and democracy.
All leaders called on the US to support efforts to manage what they said is the porous borders and shared intelligence to combat the increasing destabilization due to firearm proliferation and related crimes in the Region.
Not surprisingly, the lifting of the US sanctions on Venezuela was also discussed.
CARICOM Heads of Government urged for the removal of sanctions on Venezuela to allow countries in the Region to benefit from the PetroCaribe initiative and for progress on the exploitation of cross-border natural gas fields between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
They did not fall short of reiterating CARICOM’s consistent call for the removal of sanctions against Cuba.