Caribbean Community in Atlanta And Houston to Discuss Ideas for Washington Conference

Members of the Caribbean Diaspora in Atlanta and Houston will meet on April 27 and April 28 to discuss and submit ideas, which will form an integral part of the upcoming Conference on the Caribbean to be held in June.
The conference, to be held from June 19 to 21 in Washington, will see the 15 CARICOM Heads of State/Government in talks with the United States President, George W. Bush and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. The Town Hall meetings, which are scheduled for Texas and Georgia, will kick-off at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, April 27, at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, and move to Atlanta at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 at the Kelly Chapel United Methodist Church, Decatur, Georgia. Participants will be addressed by a high level team of CARICOM Ambassadors from Washington, including Ellsworth John, Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Chair of the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors; Denis G. Antoine, Ambassador of Grenada and Dean of the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors; Professor Gordon Shirley, Ambassador of Jamaica and Chairman of the Private Sector Dialogue and Experts Forum; Michael King, Ambassador of Barbados and Chair of the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors Working Group on the Diaspora Forum and Dialogue; Fay Housty, Executive Director, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat.
The meetings will highlight a wide range of issues affecting Caribbean nationals in the United States, including immigration and deportation, security, human rights, education, trade and economic development, as well as youth exchange. According to Ambassador John, the meetings with the US President and Secretary of State are intended to establish the highest political commitment on behalf of the United States and CARICOM Member States to a consensus-based programme to stimulate growth, development and enhanced security in the region. He added that this historical conference would bring together, for the first time, policy makers, international financial institutions, the academic community, private and public sector leaders and people of the Caribbean and the United States in one forum to examine the growth and development of the Caribbean community from a regional perspective. Among the highlights of the conference will be a Private Sector Dialogue, meetings with Caribbean exporters, a Diaspora Forum, a Caribbean Showcase and Exhibition, a Congressional Luncheon, an Experts Forum and a Caribbean Extravaganza, featuring the best of Caribbean culture. The Caribbean Heads are also slated to have discussions with officials of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of American States (OAS). Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Vin Martin, said, “the Atlanta Caribbean community is truly excited to be part of the tour that is sensitizing the community on the upcoming meeting of the Caribbean leaders with the US Administration”.
“I think this is the first time that we have anyone at the Ambassadorial level in such large numbers focusing on input by members of the diaspora in such a high level conference. We are truly pleased and excited to be having this meeting, so we can help to shape the tone of the discussions that will take place at the Conference on the Caribbean,” Mr. Martin said. The Town Hall meetings began in Washington, D.C. on March 16. Similar meetings were held in New York, Hartford, Philadelphia, and Miami, while others are planned for Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

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