JIS News

Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson, has called on Caribbean nationals living in the United States to recommit themselves to the cause of aiding the economic and social development of the Caribbean.He also urged them to reaffirm their unique social and cultural identities, as Caribbean people, within their countries of residence.
The Minister’s comments came during his address at the sixth annual awards banquet of the National Coalition on Caribbean Affairs (NCOCA), on October 11 in the Washington D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Dr. Robertson stressed the need for greater Caribbean unity through joint action, echoing Prime Minister P. J. Patterson’s charge to CARICOM nationals in New York earlier this month, to “actively aid the process of regional integration through greater participation” in the social, economic, and political affairs of their home countries.
“While the (political) boundaries of CARICOM are not confined to the physical boundaries of our regional homelands, the living boundaries of CARICOM are to be found wherever CARICOM nationals or their progeny reside and work,” the Minister said.
Dr. Robertson, who represented the Prime Minister at the function, said that the West Indian diaspora communities, not only in the United States but throughout the world, were in effect the true demographic and cultural boundaries of CARICOM. “We want to have overseas West Indians fully engaged with the rest of us in the region in consolidating Caribbean regional integration,” he said.
The Minister also observed that the phenomenon of globalization, as well as the ongoing process of trade liberalization, coupled with the proliferation of new technologies and the increasing dominance of large international corporate entities, posed significant challenges for small, developing states, such as those in the Caribbean.
He also reminded the gathering that the Caribbean countries accounted for less than one percent of total world trade and continued to face daunting problems with respect to penetrating major global markets.
Underscoring the need for greater participation by the Caribbean diaspora in sensitizing and acquainting U.S. policy makers, opinion leaders, and average Americans at large with the disparities facing the region in its quest for economic growth, Dr. Robertson called on the Caribbean community in the US to give greater support and attention to the region’s development agenda.
“Now more than ever, the Caribbean has need of its people in the diaspora, those who, with great courage ventured forth into countries, such as the United States, to make better lives for themselves and their families. We need your continued support,” he said.
The Minister further encouraged the audience to utilize the skills which they had acquired, as well as their knowledge and expertise, to “join with us in the region in the process of building our productive capacity and setting our countries on a path to economic security and prosperity”.
He also noted the significant support that Caribbean nationals continued to render the region through remittances, as well as their donations to a range of charitable causes throughout the Caribbean.
The NCOCA also honoured Air Jamaica Chairman, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and the Chief Executive Officer of Grace Kennedy and Company Limited, Douglas 0rane, with the organization’s Pinnacle Award. The International Service Award was presented to Peter July, Group Chairman of RBTT Ltd., and Errol Clarke, the Acting Chief Operations Officer of the Caribbean Media Corporation.
The Coalition, which is a non-profit organization, is an umbrella group that represents several Caribbean organizations and private individuals across the United States. The organization is principally concerned with influencing the legislative branch of the U.S. government, on issues related to immigration, regional trade and security, as well as promoting U.S. government-based initiatives, aimed at assisting the economic and social development of the Caribbean region.

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