Regional leaders advance agenda at CARICOM meeting

Posted: Friday, February 19th, 2016. 2:11 p.m. CST

CARICOM meetingBy Aaron Humes: The 27th Intersessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government was a chance for the region’s leaders to make an impact on ongoing regional problems.

And, in just a day and a half on the Placencia Peninsula, they believe they managed to get a lot done.

Monday’s opening session played as a sort of call to arms, as new chairman and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow called on his colleagues to “tone down the rhetoric and step up the achievement” in light of “particularly pronounced challenges.” “We talk less and do more,” he challenged.

Echoing the worries of a time when integration of the region failed to work, Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque called on the region to remember its constant demonstration of resilience in maintaining the cost of integration of the 15 island and mainland states of the region.

Prime Minister Barrow would lead the plenary sessions where the “meat and potatoes” of the summit – Zika response, climate change, derisking and financial climate – were on the agenda.

And by the views of the chairman and Secretary General, they achieved most of the primary objectives: coordinating a regional response to halt the spread of the Zika virus; establishing how the region moves on from a successful representation at last year’s climate summit in Paris, where it won attention from the world on its key issues of limiting temperature rise and expanding monies available for response to climate change; and most importantly, presenting a united front to the interntional financial sector, especially in the United States, which has been unfairly hitting the Caribbean with penalties for seemingly failing to control its own activities.

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