CASTRIES, St. Lucia – A Florida-Caribbean conference will take place in the United States in December aimed at integrating the region’s lobbying efforts in Washington, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has announced.
He told a news conference here that the initiative which will be held in “early December” and had been discussed and endorsed by regional leaders during the annual CARICOM summit that ended in St. Lucia on July 5.
“The Governor of Florida, the Senators of Florida, the Congresspersons, both of the Democrat and the Republican Parties, and also the Mayor of Miami have endorsed this conference.
“The expectation is that at a very high level that we can start integrating with the Florida politicians and assist us in our lobbying efforts in Washington,” Chastanet said, defending the choice of Florida “because it is a state where we have the greatest amount of economic impact.
“In fact, almost 80 cents of every dollar that a US tourist spends in our region goes back to America and so between the airlines, cruise ships, the same natural disasters that are affecting us are also affecting Florida”.
Chastanet said the same issues and sources of crime with regards to drug trafficking “are coming in the same region, so there are a lot of synergies to be had by both groups in terms of working together and I guess the last one, which is a critical one, is that the Caribbean diaspora is significant in Florida.
“So, not only are we able to on an economic basis but certainly from a policy perspective and influencing voting in the region, we will make sure that the diaspora is a significant part of the conference,” he added.