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Prime Minister addresses CARICOM as incoming chairman

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2021. 9:32 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister of Belize John Briceño takes up the Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in January, following Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

In a statement issued this week, he stated, “As we enter this new year, challenges abound both within and outside the Community. But I am confident that with our collective ingenuity, the dynamism and promise of our integration, and our enduring Caribbean resilience our Caribbean civilization will prevail.”

That hope and optimism undergirds the plans for the Community to tackle critical problems through regional cooperation, collaboration and solidarity.

These problems include the COVID-19 virus which, Briceño said, “has caused profound social and economic turmoil, and [must be defeated by] the urgent acceleration of vaccinations, which remains alarmingly low… Further delay in equitable access to vaccines will stress our health systems and personnel, and delay our economic recovery.”

Economic recovery, said Briceño, should align with regional aspirations for sustainable development and resilience. This includes the work of the Community’s Special Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security will be critically important in the coming year, advancing actions to stimulate economic growth and fortifying our food systems against supply chain disruptions.

Digital technology integration will be advanced through the Regional Digital Development Strategy.

In the area of climate change, Briceño noted, “The outcome of COP26 has not provided us with sufficient time, space nor resources to confront the catastrophic, immediate and slow onset impacts of climate change occurring in our Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States. We must be resolute in our demands and advocacy to ensure that the obligations and commitments both on emissions and financing are honored by the developed and G-20 countries.”

The new chairman promised to pursue strategic alliances built with Africa, the Pacific and Indian Ocean countries in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and Central America through the Central American Integration System (SICA).


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