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EDITORIAL – Keeping alive the spirit of Pan-Caribbean

marciadottin, [email protected]

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THE FACT that local and regional political leaders (with the exception of Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves) failed to be represented at the just-concluded Fifth Assembly of Caribbean People, seems not to have had any negative impact on the outcome in relation to deliberations and decisions.Having got underway with a well attended opening session last Tuesday evening at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, the participants from across the four major language areas of the Greater Caribbean seemed to have been stimulated by the two major addresses, first by the noted novelist and social commentator George Lamming, and secondly by Prime Minister Gonsalves.  In forging “unity”, against the odds, in its varied dimensions, including cultural and economic aspirations among the nationals of the region, the Caribbean Regional Executive Committee (REC) has been persistent in the introduction of themes relevant to the period that each “assembly” was held, over 16 years, since the first in Trinidad and Tobago.The second Assembly took place inthe Dominican Republic (2001); third in Haiti (2003); fourth in Cuba (2008) and with Barbados hosting the just-concludedweek-long event for which the Clement Payne Centre is credited as having played the key role as convenor.When an objective assessment is made about the commitment by visiting and local delegations, and the social/cultural, economic and political issues embracedfor follow-up action, the REC could perhaps be viewed as having sustained ideas and passion that had contributed to the inauguration of the Assembly in support of a pan-Caribbean vision.It seems to be the case that successive assemblies have reflected a distinct left, or left-of-centre ideological preference. At the same time, it is relevant to observe that this apparent philosophical inclination has avoided compromising commitment to spawn and sustain a Pan-Caribbean vision embracing varying ideological schools of thought, while being firm in the advocacy of unity and solidarity across boundaries of nationality, ethnicity and culture.In this sense, although there are lingering differences in approaches by the region’s economic integration movement that is  the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), it could be conceded, even by detractors of the organisation that stands as the “Assembly of Caribbean People”, that both at least share a common goal in relation to generating unity among the region’s nationals – irrespective of nationality; race and culture, or in economic and political systems.In the circumstances, it is encouragingto know that the local convenor, Clement Payne Centre, played a positive rolein enabling the Regional Executive Committee to express satisfaction with the progress achieved at the just-concluded Fifth Assembly in the furtherance of the goals identified at the inaugural event in Trinidad and Tobago in 1994.