Posted: Friday, December 24, 2021. 12:21 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “The joy of this festive period is once again tempered by the continuing onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Dr. Carla. N. Barnett in her End of The Year Message.
Those words set the tone of her message which reviews the action CARICOM has taken during 2021.
“Throughout the year, our immediate concern has been how best to secure lives and livelihoods in our Member States, as the virus’ lingering presence slows the recovery of the economic and social well-being of the people of our Community,” said Dr. Barnett.
She said CARICOM’S primary focus has been acquiring sufficient vaccines to save lives and allow for the revival of economic activity. She recognized the assistance of the Governments of India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the COVAX Facility, and the African Union. She mentioned that the CARICOM Heads of Government, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and the CARICOM Secretariat has been “working tirelessly to maintain an adequate supply of doses”.
She went on to say that CARICOM now has to look beyond COVID-19 and propel the CARICOM economies to sustainable growth and development.
Agriculture and tourism have to be given priority to overturn the adverse impact of the pandemic on those sectors, she said, adding that special task forces have been set up to ensure they bounce back.
She also said progress has been made in engaging the two principal telecommunications providers in the Region to eliminate roaming charges in the Region.
Moreover, she pointed out that CARICOM’s Foreign Ministers have been pursuing the Community’s interest by engaging with their counterparts in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Dr. Barnett also reviewed CARICOM’s participation in COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland highlighting that the global meeting “fell short of our expectations and much work needs to be done as we continue to advocate for action to reduce global emissions”.
She said that CARICOM needs to work with Haiti, “to help in resolving the deteriorating political situation and the deepening public anxiety over citizen security”.
She also noted that the CARICOM community pulls together in the face of natural disasters like “the volcanic eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the resultant heavy ashfall in Barbados, and the earthquake in Haiti”.
“We also worked together to procure and share vaccines, to present a common front at climate change negotiations, and to advocate strongly for our interests in discussions with foreign governments.”
To end, she wished for a safe and happy holiday season but at the same time reminded the Community that as “we enjoy the festivities of the season, let us not forget those who lost their lives to the pandemic and those still in its throes, and let us hold up and honour those frontline workers who continue to serve at great sacrifice”.
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