Statement by the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller ON, MP
Prime Minister of Jamaica
For Plenary Session of PetroCaribe 10th Anniversary Summit
September 5, 2015
- President Maduro
- Other colleague Heads of State and Government
It is my distinct pleasure and honour to welcome you to Jamaica.
The records show that when he came here, Christopher Columbus described our country as the most beautiful of all those he had seen.
I certainly would not quarrel with Columbus over that description.
I hope you will enjoy our country’s beauty and the hospitality of our people.
Ladies and gentlemen:
I want at the outset, to make mention of the unfortunate circumstances of one of our members of this cooperation Agreement – Dominica, which was severely affected by Tropical Storm Erika recently.
We express our deepest sympathy to the Government and people of our sister Caribbean nation on the loss of lives and the widespread destruction of private and public property during that Storm.
Some of us have already indicated to Prime Minister Skerrit our willingness to assist in the recovery efforts.
Our prayers are with the Government and people of Dominica in their time of need.
The havoc wreaked by the Tropical Storm in Dominica is a strong reminder of just how vulnerable our societies and economies are to external shocks such as weather variations and climate change.
The need to build greater economic resilience within our economies created the background against which our leaders, in 2005, agreed on PetroCaribe as a vehicle for energy security, economic and social development.
This was encouraged by the vision and foresight of the late President Hugo Chavez.
Ten years ago, our existence as largely non-oil producing countries in an environment of a globally volatile oil market that negatively affected the development of our nations, was the context that gave rise to the extraordinary PetroCaribe Agreement.
Montego Bay is significant for those of us in the Caribbean Community, as the cradle of the Caribbean regional integration movement. It is also significant as the location where the institutional arrangements for PetroCaribe were agreed at the first PetroCaribe Summit ten years ago.
This Summit marks another opportunity for our Latin American and Caribbean countries to jointly recognize the achievements of this important accord that has helped to fortify regional economies, meet many of the social and economic development needs of our people, and build strong relationships.
President Maduro, once again Jamaica places on record our sincere thanks to the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for this timely and significant initiative.
This mechanism founded by President Hugo Chavez, and reaffirmed by you, President Maduro, continues to facilitate the growth and development of our countries.
Today, on the 10th anniversary of PetroCaribe, I salute President Chavez, you President Maduro and the people of Venezuela.
Despite your challenges, you have proven to be true friends of the people of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Since that historic signing, the region has seen significant benefits and increased development in many areas. Additionally, the PetroCaribe has engendered a sense of independence in our region.
The 10th Anniversary Summit underscores the fact that PetroCaribe has a future in the energy security and socio-economic development of Jamaica and the region. Without the PetroCaribe arrangement, some of the most vulnerable countries in the region would have succumbed to the global economic crisis in 2008 as well as subsequent challenges.
PetroCaribe remains an important mechanism for the promotion of closer cooperation and greater unity among countries in the region.
It has made major contributions to improving the socio economic development of states through investments totalling just under US$4 billion in 432 social projects to foster improvements in the standard of living of our peoples.
Among PetroCaribe’s significant achievements that have positively impacted the Jamaican economy over the years are the investments in the improvement of our road, air and seaport infrastructure; the financing of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises; and production expansion.
Just over a year ago, a new dimension in our relationship with Venezuela was activated when, for the first time, clinker from Jamaica was exported to Venezuela utilizing the Trade Compensation Mechanism of the PetroCaribe Agreement.
The PetroCaribe has been a lifeline for many of the region’s struggling economies and for our people.
As a nation, Jamaica is pleased to host this Summit that provides a great opportunity for us to join with regional states in:
- Highlighting the profound impact of the agreement;
- Committing to PetroCaribe’s future; and
- Renewing our historic alliance with the people and Government of Venezuela.
We are confident that this meeting will be extremely meaningful and will carry with it the symbolism of a strong group of countries that are united by more than oil.
We are united in a shared vision for regional economic growth and for the long-term development and prosperity of all our peoples.