By Editor-July 5th, 2023.
CARICOM Leaders braved stormy weather in Port-of-Spain for a commemorative ceremony in observance of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, where the then leaders of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas, on July 4, 1973, heralding the birth of Caricom.
They planted six poui trees and participated in a flag-raising ceremony.
The leaders from the 15-member regional grouping also added their signatures to a letter placed in a time capsule that will be unsealed 50 years from now.
Dominica’s Prime Minister and Caricom chairman Roosevelt Skerrit said while he wanted to remind the region’s population that “we are living in a more difficult world than in the last 50 years”, it is still important for Caribbean countries to remain united in their stance to issues affecting the community.
“I suggested to the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago that we should come here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Caricom. And one of the reasons I wanted this to happen was for us to have some introspection and some reflection, and quite possibly to invoke the spirits of the founding fathers, to ask whether we are on the right track, or we are on the wrong track.
“I believe in large measure we are on the right track. But there are some things which we need to do… I will say to us in the Caribbean, I believe we’re living in a more difficult world now than 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago, and this requires us to be even more united in purpose,” Skerrit said.
He added that there were too many injustices that have been meted to the region over the years, such as the issue of climate change, and kicking down the bucket of firm decisions to address concerns in the Caribbean community.
Prime Minister Rowley highlighted critical accomplishments of CARICOM over the last 50 years. “CARICOM has used the foundation laid by the four pillars of regional integration, namely functional cooperation, the coordination of foreign policy, security collaboration and economic integration, to build a home where we can find refuge, where all of us can find refuge and purpose,” stated the Prime Minister.
He emphasised that CARICOM has had to contend with its own limitations.
“Limitations that are built into its design given that we are sovereign states free to choose our own policies and pursue our own goals. There have been times when in the last fifty years, these limitations have challenged us and still, here we are today, a family of nations replete with the wisdom that comes from facing those challenges head-on, we are stronger together”, stated Prime Minister Rowley, “So, as we take stock of the last fifty years and look with anticipation towards the next fifty, let us do so knowing that whatever divides us will never be bigger than that which unites us.”
Prime Minister Skerrit referred to the challenges experienced by the Region but urged for unity and collaborative efforts to find solutions. “This requires us to be even more united in purpose,” stated the Prime Minister, “there are too many injustices that have been meted out to us as a Community, noting the issue of climate change and the kicking down of the bucket of firm decisions to address our concerns in the Caribbean Community. Sometimes we feel like giving up and not attending the COP conferences, but we must never relent in our fight against injustices. Like our forebearers who fought for our emancipation, they never gave up. Therefore, we have to look even deeper within ourselves to continue that noble fight to ensure that the developed world does what is just and right where we are concerned with regard to climate change.
Prime Minister Skerrit highlighted the challenges associated with the international financial architecture. “This is not a government fight, this is our fight in the Caribbean community – every one of us must play our part because this poses an existential threat to our very survival and abilities to trade with the rest of the world.
He stated that the international financial architecture is skewed against the Region. “I am happy that we are moving forward with the Bridgetown Initiative, where we have articulated a very clear view of what the problem is and what are the solutions to the problem” stated Prime Minister Skerrit, “I am confident and comforted to know that we are united in this Community – we are united in our vision, mission and united in our commitment to fight the good fight”.
The ceremony served as a poignant reminder that CARICOM continues to be the longest-surviving regional union among developing countries.
After a call from UN Secretary General Guterres on the opening day for a global force to assist Haiti to restore law and order, CARICOM leaders seem to have studiously avoided the topic in their speeches.