Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, has called on Caribbean nations to work together to protect their interests, similar to what countries, which fought wars for years, are now doing in the European Union (EU).
Mr. Patterson, who was speaking at a celebratory banquet in his honour on February 4, at the Round Hill Hotel, in Honover, also pressed for the regional integration process to move forward.
“The challenges which we face oblige us, not just out of a question of sentiment, but of shared necessity, to pool our collective strengths and combine all our resources in the development of the Caribbean to which we belong,” he told the gathering.
He argued that the questions surrounding the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) have been answered, and the countries within the region should embrace it as their final appellate court. “We have already paid for the Caribbean Court of Justice in full, whether or not we use it as our final appellate court, so let’s embrace it. We have also had consultations now for nearly 20 years about the move from a Monarchy to establishing a Republic, where we choose as head of state, somebody with an embodiment of the highest pinnacle of achievement,” Mr. Patterson said.
Guest speaker at the function, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, said the Caribbean states should coalesce at every possible juncture to pursue those “strategies which will yield the most benefits to our region and its people.”
“Now more than ever, we need to be unified in our enterprise of building not just a single market and economy, but a single Caribbean civilization. What this suggests is that our pre-occupation with day-to-day undertakings, grappling with pressing problems and immediate imperatives of these difficult times, we politicians, academics, journalists, business people and ordinary folk are all in danger of losing sight of the significant, strategic, the heroic subject in the bigger picture,” Dr. Anthony said.
He called for an end to squabbling among islands, and for the people to be part of, and be able “to feel regional coming together.”
“All our accomplishments along the road to Regional integration, all of our triumphs and successes will go un-cherished unless they are celebrated by all our generations in a manner that the very people in whose name we work, can see, hear, feel and understand the full significance of our progress. Our pre-occupation with the insignificant will render us insignificant. We need to rise out of the trenches of petty island politics and take a hard look across the global battleground to the high ground we wish to capture,” he argued.
Dr. Anthony, in lauding Mr. Patterson for his commitment to Caribbean unity, said the former Prime Minister led with vision in negotiations with powerful interests in the global arena. He also cemented, as a matter of primacy, the CCJ as an indispensable requirement of the integration movement and a prerequisite for the successful establishment of a single market and economy.
“That same breath of vision and strength of character reappeared in his recommended approach to issues like Haiti and Cuba. On both of these, when the world would rather have looked away, Mr. Patterson called for a collective consistency in the regional approach,” he said.
Mr. Patterson served as Prime Minister from 1992 until 2006, when he was succeeded by the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter