Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew Engages in Historic VIII Summit of CELAC Heads of State and Government

Delegates at the VIII Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
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Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis – Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew was among the thirty-two (32) leaders who participated in the VIII Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on Friday, March 1st, 2024, at the newly built Sandals Resort at Buccament, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Delegates at the VIII Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Hosted by the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Pro Tempore President of CELAC, the summit marked a pivotal moment for the region’s collaborative efforts towards socio-economic development and regional integration.

The Summit proposed initiatives aimed at fostering unity and advancing socio-economic development across CELAC member countries.

During the Summit, leaders delivered statements on various issues affecting Latin America and the Caribbean. Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, in his statement, emphasized the imperative of unity and collective action in addressing multidimensional crises, stating:

“This regional community of ours does not exist in a vacuum but in a global space with many challenges that continue to evolve. And we must find collective proactive responses to the reality of multidimensional crises that for many of us are not of our own making. Confronting the economic woes that plague us, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and the effects of the wars that are raging across the globe requires committed, principled, and pragmatic leadership, as that within our mechanism, to find solutions if we are to survive and thrive”.

Prime Minister Drew highlighted the urgent need for climate action, particularly concerning the severe droughts faced by Saint Kitts and Nevis.

”Colleagues, we all recently came from COP28 where many decisions were made, however, these are decisions and promises that have been made year after year and are slow to be fulfilled, if they are fulfilled at all. In the meantime, the most vulnerable countries are being disproportionately affected and are suffering under the weight of a burden they did not create”, he added, “in St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere, we are seeing the worst droughts of our lifetime, now having to invest limited resources in desalination. The adaptation cost is eating away at our budget like cancer to the body”.

He underscored the importance of partnership and advocated for fair and meaningful solutions to address adaptation and development challenges.

“However, we are not standing by with our hands in our pockets. We are responding bravely, and we have come up with the sustainable island state model to deal with the question of adaptation and development. This plan makes the bold statement that we are not seeking sympathy, we are seeking partnerships because we are well aware that we cannot go it alone. We are not seeking pity, we are seeking justice. We are not seeking handouts; we are seeking fair and meaningful solutions. That is why this community, and its actions are critical and will remain relevant. We have what it takes, but do we have the political will?”

He further added, “Excellencies, we cannot achieve our individual national goals with the existing international financial structure that is designed to work against us. For this reason, we continue to support our sister Mia’s Bridgetown Initiative which seeks to address the disadvantages that developing states face and to create a just system for us to thrive”.

Addressing the issue of Haiti, Prime Minister Drew expressed concern over the escalating crisis, emphasizing the region’s solidarity with the Haitian people and the need for immediate action.

“The situation has now deteriorated beyond anything we could have imagined. A destabilized Haiti creates a destabilized region which compounds the many challenges that we already face. But moreover, we cannot idly sit by and continue to watch the suffering of the Haitian people. It is distressing to witness the first free black republic in the world yet again in a fight for its survival”, he added.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Drew called for the region to remain a zone of peace and commended Prime Minister Gonsalves for his leadership in promoting peace and stability.

“Critical to further achieving our individual and collective goals is this region remaining a zone of peace. To this end, I call for our community to be a practical part of the solution to help resolve the border and territorial disputes specifically as it relates to Belize-Guatemala and Guyana-Venezuela. And I must commend comrade Prime Minister Gonsalves for his leadership which enabled the Argyle Declaration, he added.

In a compelling plea, Prime Minister Drew urged an end to the economic embargo on Cuba, emphasizing the country’s invaluable contributions to healthcare and the unjust nature of the embargo.

“Excellencies, I also take this opportunity to call for an end to the economic, commercial, and financial embargo on Cuba. What is the purpose? What does it achieve? Cuba continues to be a dear friend and a committed partner. Just recently our country needed a few medical specialists, and Cuba quickly responded. The countless lives that Cuban healthcare professionals have saved cannot be counted. Despite the limitations imposed on Cuba, it has accomplished great things. Let us imagine what Cuba could accomplish if given the space to do so. It is past time to lift this unjust embargo” Prime Minister Drew emphasized.

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew’s active engagement in regional dialogues reaffirms Saint Kitts and Nevis’s commitment to CELAC’s objectives of solidarity and cooperation in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was the first Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member State to hold the Pro Tempore Presidency of CELAC.

The Summit culminated in a ceremonial transfer of the CELAC Presidency to the Republic of Honduras, signifying a smooth transition of leadership and a renewed commitment to the objectives of the organization.

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