JIS News

As the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States (US) prepares for a June summit with President George Bush, the region’s Ambassadors and Consuls General in South Florida met with their constituents last Friday (April 13), to discuss issues relevant to the upcoming meeting in Washington, D.C.
The forum, which was held at the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale, highlighted a wide range of issues affecting the Caribbean nationals in the US including immigration and deportation, security, human rights, education, trade and economic development, as well as youth exchange programmes.
Participants pointed to the need to strengthen ties among the Caribbean Diaspora groups in the US as well as with the US government; and for increased relations between the US and CARICOM.
The meaningful discussions session also called for the harnessing of skills and knowledge of Caribbean nationals and there was consensus for the building of a support network within the Diaspora community, that would interface with the US policymakers at the regional and national levels.
There was also a call for US policymakers, decision makers and the private sector to be enlightened about the importance and potential of the Caribbean region and its people.
Meanwhile, the CARICOM Consular Corp appealed for unity and collaboration among Caribbean groups and for US leaders to address opportunities and challenges.
Caribbean nationals were also encouraged to apply for US citizenship as soon as they become eligible, to gain voting rights and participate in the decision-making process in their communities and to leverage assistance for the development of the region.
Belize Ambassador to the United States, Lisa Shoman and Ambassador Ellsworth John of St. Vincent and Grenadines, co-chairs of the Ambassadors Working Group on the Capitol Hill Dialogue, gave an overview of the June Summit, while Ambassador Michael King Barbados, led discussions on the Diaspora forum and outcomes.
Papers on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy were presented by staff of the CARICOM Secretariat. Deputy Chief of Missions of Jamaican Embassy in Washington, Sharon Miller, appealed to Caribbean nationals to continue discussions in the local communities as the summit nears.
This conference, to be held from June 19 to 21, comes at a time when much attention will be focused on Caribbean Heritage Month, which will also be celebrated in June.