Integración económica y Venezuela centran los debates en el cierre de la cumbre de la Caricom

Delegación de Caricom podría acudir a Venezuela para “estudiar” situación del país

Los líderes de los países de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom) celebraron su primera ronda de discusiones dentro de la 38 cumbre de la organización en la que destacaron como temas principales la integración económica, la crisis en Venezuela y la situación de la aerolínea regional Liat.

Los participantes en la reunión, celebrada en la capital de Granada, centraron sus esfuerzos en avanzar en la implementación del mercado único, un asunto que ya fue tratado en el encuentro entre cumbres celebrado el pasado mes de febrero.

La jornada también sirvió para trabajar en la comisión que trata el asunto de las compensaciones que se estudian pedir a las antiguas potencias coloniales por la esclavitud y el desarrollo de la marihuana para distintos fines, que volverán a ser abordados durante la jornada de hoy.

Asimismo, durante la reunión, el primer ministro de Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, se mostró a favor de que una delegación de Caricom viaje a Venezuela para estudiar sobre el terreno la situación del país.

Skerrit, uno de los trece líderes que asisten a la 38 cumbre anual de Caricom, dijo que su país quiere un diálogo pacífico y condena toda forma de violencia en el país suramericano, que desde el pasado 1 de abril vive una oleada de manifestaciones a favor y en contra del Gobierno que ha dejado 91 muertos y más de mil heridos, de acuerdo con cifras de la Fiscalía local.

Dijo que Caricom debería aprovechar la oportunidad de la reunión de Granada, a la que también asiste el subsecretario de Estado de EEUU, Thomas Shannon, para acordar el envío de una misión a Venezuela, que provee petróleo a unos precios muy beneficiosos a los países de la organización regional.

El presidente de Caricom y primer ministro de Granada, Keith Mitchell, advirtió a sus colegas de que no permitiría la inacción en el caso de Venezuela y dijo que el grupo regional debe comprometerse a tomar una posición unificada sobre la situación actual de ese país.

Otro tema abordado ayer por los participantes fue la financiación de la línea aérea regional Liat.

Sobre ese asunto, el primer ministro de San Vicente y las Granadinas -cuyo Gobierno es accionista de la aerolínea-, Ralph Gonsalves, dijo a Efe que se debe apoyar la financiación de la compañía aérea con base en Antigua por interés regional.

Mitchell indicó por su parte que la debilidad del transporte aéreo interno hace que sea más fácil actualmente viajar al exterior.

“Además, he sostenido durante mucho tiempo que la presencia política en el consejo de compañías aéreas, como Liat, no es útil para su correcta gestión y eficiencia”, sostuvo Mitchell.

Liat es propiedad de los gobiernos accionistas de Antigua y Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica y San Vicente y las Granadinas.

Gonsalves recordó que en 2001 Liat promovió, sin éxito, una emisión de 40 millones de dólares para obtener capital y solo el Gobierno de su país colocó 2,9 millones de dólares, sin ninguna otra aportación.

“Pero si Liat no existiera habríamos tenido que inventarla”, dijo, tras recordar que San Vicente y las Granadinas recibe 42 vuelos semanales de la aerolínea, mientras que Granada disfruta de cerca de 40.

Los presidentes de Caricom tuvieron la oportunidad de hablar con el vicepresidente para América Latina y el Caribe del Banco Mundial, Jorge Familiar, quien en una presentación señaló que los países del Caribe han tenido más éxito en reinventarse que algunos de los gigantes de la región.

2001


CARICOM discord further exposed at Grenada summit

Following the very public collapse of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member unity at last month’s Organization of American States (OAS) summit in Mexico, the bloc’s disharmony was further exposed at the heads of government meeting currently taking place in Grenada.

Pleas for “collective action” by the newly elected prime minister of The Bahamas, Dr Hubert Minnis, and closer unity urged by the outgoing chairman, David Granger, president of Guyana, appear to have fallen on deaf ears when it came to the incoming CARICOM chairman, Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada and host of the meeting.

Speaking during the ceremonial opening of the 38th summit of CARICOM leaders on Tuesday night, Mitchell criticised the political influence on the operations of regional airline LIAT, which is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I have long held the belief that political presence on the board of airlines, such as LIAT, is not helpful to its proper management and efficiency,” he said.

“How could LIAT thrive when, for example, a few months ago, literally overnight, LIAT cancelled one of its most lucrative routes to and from Grenada, without any consultation with the citizens or leadership of Grenada? And it was all based on politics. Colleagues, we have to do better as a region,” he continued.

On Wednesday, St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, publicly disagreed with Mitchell on the problems facing LIAT and appealed to regional governments to invest in the airline.

Also on Wednesday, Antigua and Barbuda prime minister, Gaston Browne, took issue with Mitchell over remarks in relation to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

In a strongly worded statement, although not naming Mitchell, Browne referred to him as “a particular head who is of the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive-obsessive desire to dissolve the board.”

In late 2015, an independent review panel of the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket Governance recommended that the WICB be disbanded and an interim committee installed to run the affairs of cricket in the region.

Browne and Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, have publicly disagreed with this recommendation.

Maurice Merchant, director-general of communications in the Office of the Prime Minister, confirmed that Browne “is indeed back on the island to address matters of state.”

He said the members of Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation “are capable of representing the positions of the government.” They are also in close contact with the prime minister should they require his guidance on any matter.

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Meanwhile in the face of the latest internecine conflicts on purely regional issues, the Bahamian prime minister called on CARICOM leaders to “speak to the world with one voice about the aspirations of our people, and the mission of CARICOM.”

“CARICOM is a community of the people we serve, not a club of officials and politicians,” Minnis said.

Guyana’s president also underscored the critical need for unwavering solidarity at this time.

In the message to his colleagues, Granger stated: “The Caribbean Community cannot cling to an obsolete model of insularity in light of these international changes. The Community might be an association of small states but it is larger and stronger when it is united. It must not underestimate the value of its solidarity or its strength when it speaks with a single voice as a Community. Solidarity is a source of strength.”

Caribbean News


CARICOM Summit: Dominica PM in favour of mission to Venezuela

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit this morning said he favoured a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation going to Venezuela where opposition forces are seeking to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Skerrit, who is attending the 38th annual meeting of CARICOM leaders, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that his country condemns any form of violence and wants a peaceful dialogue in the South American country.

“We would like to see a peaceful resolution to the situation. It is not in the interest of Venezuelans or the interest of the world for the situation to continue.

“What I would like to suggest though is the possibility of a CARICOM mission going into Venezuela meeting with the government, meeting with the opposition and seeking to provide a greater sense of leadership to finding a resolution to the current challenges confronting the Venezuelans,” he added.

At the ceremonial opening of the summit on Tuesday night, Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who is chairing the three-day summit, said the regional grouping needed to find the resolve to commit to a unified position on the current political challenge in neighbouring Venezuela, where opposition forces are seeking to remove Maduro by staging daily street demonstrations that have so far resulted in the death of more than 50 people.

“We cannot ignore what is going on in a country with which all of our member states have had strong historic ties; and one with which countries such as Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago share maritime borders,” Mitchell told the ceremony, adding “these realities, combined with our international record of standing up for political order, democracy and respect for human rights, ought to inspire us to arrive at a clear stance on this current crisis in Venezuela.

“Of course, in doing so, we must be cognizant of the broad principles of non-interference, the support for the rule of law and order, constitutionality, and the respect for human rights,” he said, noting “we appreciate that there is a duly elected government in place in Venezuela, and that many of the internal struggles are manifestations of a struggle for political power.

Mitchell said that as a region and as neighbour, CARICOM needs to be concerned about anomalies and excesses; and about extremism from all sides.

“We must stand united to condemn violence – from whichever quarter it comes. We must, therefore, not retreat from using our close ties to nudge all parties to a position of “dialogue” that will be in the best interest of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The Venezuela issue, according to the CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque is not an agenda item for the summit, but he acknowledged that it was possible that the leaders would be issuing some form of statement on the situation at the end of their deliberations.

Skerrit told CMC that he wanted to suggest that the delegation to visit Venezuela should comprise “of a couple heads, a couple leaders of the opposition within CARICOM and report back and ensure that we can play our part in assisting a sister nation in these whole internal situation.

“Of course that would have to meet the approval of both the government and the opposition,” he said, adding “I think that should be considered”.

Earlier, Guyana’s President David Granger told CMC that his country has always taken the view that the people themselves would solve the situation in the South American country.

“We have already expressed the view that there should not be any outside intervention, we are not interested in a regime change, we are interested in an orderly resolution of the crisis.

“We will cooperate with our Caribbean colleagues,” said Granger, whose country has a border dispute with Venezuela.

Jamaica Observer