Hundreds in Hispanic community dialogue with PM on socio-economic issues

From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Close to 500 individuals from the Hispanic community residing in various communities throughout St. Kitts attended a public forum hosted by the Team Unity-led government March 21 at the Newtown Community Centre in East Basseterre.

People of all walks of life – the elderly, youth, sportsmen and women – packed the halls of the Newtown Community Centre to meet and greet Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris and his team, and to share their concerns and outline how they can further participate in the development and progressive agenda of the federation.

Prime Minister Harris was supported at Thursday’s meeting by his Cabinet colleagues, including Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Shawn Richards, Parliamentary Representative for Constituency One the Hon. Ian Patches Liburd, Minister of Human Settlement et al. the Hon.Eugene Hamilton, Attorney General the Hon. Vincent Byron and Minister of State within the Ministry of Health et al. the Honourable Wendy Phipps.

Also present were the Honourable Sen. Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Andrew Skerritt and Ambassador Jonel Powell.

Leaders of the Latin community, including Heriberto Torres, Gilberto Pie and Alexander Mitrell, flanked Prime Minister Harris at the head table.

The prime minister, who was there at the invitation of the Latin community, presented his entire opening remarks in Spanish, connecting his listening audience. This gesture was noticeably welcomed by those in attendance who showed their appreciation with a resounding round of applause.

In his presentation, Prime Minister Harris said it is because of the special relationship shared between St. Kitts and Nevis and Hispanic countries, particularly the Dominican Republic, why public forums such as that which was held on Thursday evening are important. According to the prime minister, this special relationship dates back to the days of the sugar industry.

“We are happy on this occasion to welcome you to our country, remembering with fondness and gratitude that one time long ago, our people too visited your country for improved opportunities,” Harris said. “We are happy now to be able to reciprocate and we want you to feel welcomed and safe in our country.”

Many of those in attendance seized the opportunity to air their views and concerns directly to the prime minister and his Cabinet colleagues. Some of these issues include housing, social safety nets, citizenship, residency, social security, discrimination and employment.

Others praised the work of Prime Minister Harris and the Team Unity administration and pledged to work hand in hand with the government in the interest of nation building.

The Dominican Sports and Cultural Club of St. Kitts and Nevis presented Richards and Harris with a plaque each of appreciation for their support to the Dominican community.