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CARICOM, SICA heads of government to tackle wide range of issues at meetings in Belize

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2022. 7:00 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Ambergris Caye will be the focal point of the Central American and Caribbean region for most of next week, as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday will be immediately followed by a one-day summit with the leaders of the Central American Integration System (SICA) on Thursday.

Prime Minister John Briceño will chair as leaders discuss post-pandemic economic recovery, implementing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); the situation in Haiti and regional security; recommendations for regional food and nutrition security; climate change and the plan of action coming out of COP26 in Glasgow and beginning of planning toward COP27, among many other issues.

The opening session will be addressed by the Prime Minister, his colleague from Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, and Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett, who comes home for the first time since assuming office last August. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Belize time on Tuesday and a closing press conference will be held on Wednesday at five in the evening.

At the CARICOM-SICA summit on Thursday, the two Regions will seek to build on common interests and challenges, including the current pandemic and climate change. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to address the gathering.

The Prime Minister described it as “an exciting time for Belize. We need to take advantage of that role that we can play. Belize is historically a part of the Caribbean, but geographically, we are a part of Central America so we can play that connection; we can create the connection between SICA and CARICOM, but to do that, we have to be more active in SICA,” adding that “If we can work together, we can have a bigger voice, a stronger voice in the international forum. So again, I have taken the opportunity to invite the presidents to come or their vice presidents to come on Thursday to come up with a joint declaration — what we are referring to as the San Pedro declaration.”

The CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett told an interviewer that she will be happy to come home and play host in the first such in-person gathering for two years: “For us in Belize it is going to be a pleasure to welcome dignitaries from the Caribbean, and for me doubly a pleasure because it’s kind of poignant, very special, to be able to do that.”

But it’s no vacation even on Ambergris: the region’s leaders will be discussing the COVID issue, for example, how to get children five to eleven vaccinated, re-opening schools and navigating the re-opening of the economy without courting disaster by inviting a rise of cases. The discussions and decisions will be guided by scientific developments.

 

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