EDITORIAL: Challenge for sixth summit of Americas
Later this week, the Sixth Summit of the Americas will take place over three days in Cartagena, Colombia with Partners For Prosperity as its central theme.
Among heads of state and heads of government to attend will be those from the Caribbean Community.
Except for the absence of Cuba and Ecuador, it would be the second such hemispheric event in three years since that hosted by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.
While the chosen theme may be politically appealing, it would require a fact-based assessment of the progress achieved since the summit in Port of Spain in order to inspire confidence in the future.
From a Caribbean perspective, and bearing in mind that this region has the single largest bloc of representatives in the Organization of American States (OAS), it is to be assumed that our leaders will be forthcoming in highlighting the difference between soothing rhetoric on partnership for prosperity and the depressing reality of stubborn poverty, spreading inequalities and conflicts in this hemisphere.
In reflecting on the main agenda areas proposed for consideration at the Cartagena Summit – poverty reduction, security, and integration through improved infrastructure, technology and national disasters – CARICOM leaders in particular would do well to recall that the first Caribbean/United States Summit to take place in this region, and hosted by Barbados in May 1997, had as its motivating focus Partnership For Prosperity And Security.
The history-making event had attracted the involvement of then President Bill Clinton. Some 14 years later, United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton – who will also be accompanying President Barack Obama at the Cartagena Summit – held an informal meeting here with Caribbean foreign ministers at which there was reaffirmation of the Bridgetown Accord On Partnership For Prosperity And Security.
It is more than high time for a candid assessment of the extent of progress in the crucial areas first identified in 1997, moreso now that the work agenda is to be guided by the theme Partners For Prosperity.
Let there be a reality check and communication of the results to the people of this hemisphere in whose name decisions will be made.